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Greens approve coalition talks with Merkel's conservatives in Hesse

Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party in the state of Hesse are set to hold coalition talks with the Greens. The environmentalist party approved entering negotiations at a congress in Frankfurt.

Green Party members voted 51-6 on Saturday in favor of holding coalition talks with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said the Greens leader for Hesse, Tarek al-Wazir (pictured above).

"We had a very intense debate today," al-Wazir said, adding that the party congress was at times very emotional.

The Greens will now explore "whether a good common government policy can be made despite differences," he said. The potential alliance would have to be approved at the Greens' party congress on December 21.

The CDU have been in exploratory coalition talks with the Greens and the Social Democrats (SPD) since their September 22 election victory in Hesse, which saw them pick up 47 percent of the 110 seats in the assembly and keep state premier Volker Bouffier in power.

The SPD are considered the more traditional partners to form a so-called "grand coalition." Such an alliance is currently being negotiated between the two parties at the national level. A potential partnership between the CDU and Greens in the Bundestag was ruled out not long after the conservatives' postelection victory exploratory coalition talks began.

Saturday's vote indicates such an alliance is increasingly possible on the state level. The two parties previously formed a coalition government in the Hamburg parliament from 2008 to 2010.

dr/mkg (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)