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Christian Democrats and Greens agree on coalition in German state of Hesse

In the German state of Hesse, the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) of Chancellor Merkel and the Green party have reportedly agreed to form a coalition. The decision comes after three weeks of tough negotiations.

The two parties reached the agreement to rule the state of Hesse as a coalition overnight to Tuesday, broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk (hr) reported.

"We have a deal," Hessian CDU leader Volker Bouffier (shown r. in photo) was quoted by the broadcaster as saying early on Tuesday morning in the spa resort of Schlangenbad, which lies just outside the state's capital city Wiesbaden.

The Greens' leader, Tarek Al-Wazir, spoke of a good basis for being able to govern reliably for five years.

If confirmed, it would be only the second time a German state would have a CDU-Green coalition at the helm. Previously, only the city-state of Hamburg and some municipalities have been governed by the combination.

In Hamburg, where a CDU-Green coalition came into force in 2008, the alliance was broken off two years into the term.

The deal still needs approval at conferences of both parties scheduled for next Saturday.

Difficult financial issues

Bouffier told hr that budget issues had led to arduous negotiations, but that the two parties had found a "good solution." On Monday, the CDU and the Greens announced cuts to universities in order to bring Hesse's structural deficit of almost 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) under control.

No further details were given about the agreement, which is to be made public at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

Last week, the two parties removed one sticking point in negotiations by agreeing to reduce noise pollution caused by Frankfurt Airport, Germany's largest. Among other things, regular seven-hour breaks were to be introduced to reduce noise-induced strain on residents in surrounding areas.

The Greens originally wanted a strict ban on night flights and also questioned the need for a new terminal at the airport. However, Bouffier insisted that the hub had to remain competitive.

The Hessian CDU won state elections in September with 38.3 percent of the vote. The party at first began coalition discussions with the Social Democrats (SPD), which received 30.7 percent, but later decided in favor of the Greens, who had received just 11.1 percent of votes.

tj/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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