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Christian Democrats, Greens agree to second round of exploratory talks

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the environmentalist Green Party have agreed to a second round of exploratory talks. Both parties said the first round had gone better than expected.

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Germany's Merkel explores Green coalition

CDU General Secretary Hermann Gröhe characterized Thursday's talks with the Greens as "open, to the point and focused on content," saying that his party was equally serious about exploring a coalition with the Greens and the Social Democrats respectively.

Green Party chairman Cem Özdemir said that there was a "friendly mood" during the talks with the conservative CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). Claudia Roth, the Green Party chairwoman, said that the discussions had been "very business like."

The Greens and the CDU agreed to meet again on Tuesday for continued discussions. Merkel's Christian Democrats have already concluded a first round of talks with the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD). The SPD and CDU will meet again on Monday.

While the CDU hasn't been completely ruled out a partnership with Greens, a grand coalition with the SPD is considered more likely. The CDU and SPD governed together under Chancellor Merkel from 2005-2009.

A monthly opinion poll by public broadcaster ARD later on Thursday indicated that 66 percent of participants favored a grand coalition out of the two viable post-election alliances available to Merkel.

Large policy gap

The CSU General Secretary Alexander Dobrindt said after Thursday's exploratory talks that "the gap between the Greens and us is a bit larger than it is with the SPD." Given that gap, Dobrindt said the decision to even hold a second round of talks could be considered a positive step.

There's a well-known and publicly broadcast personal enmity between CSU chief Horst Seehofer and former Green Party top candidate Jürgen Trittin. And the Green Party's focus during the 2013 campaign on raising taxes on the wealthy is considered a major stumbling block, with the CDU opposed to new taxes.

The CDU and the Greens held "intensive" discussions on Thursday about EU policy and Germany's transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, according to Özdemir.

Roth said that other topics will be more intensively discussed on Tuesday.

slk, msh/ccp (AFP, Reuters)

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