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Germany

Merkel Agrees to Second TV Debate

After refusing for weeks, German election favorite Angela Merkel has agreed to a second television debate with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, his spokesman said on Thursday. Bela Anda said Schröder and Merkel would face each other on ARD national television on September 12, six days before national elections. Schröder initially proposed two television duels but Merkel, who is leading in the polls but less at ease in front of the cameras than the media-savvy chancellor, said she had time for one only. The first debate is taking place on Sunday. The second will also include Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of the Greens and a main candidate for the newly formed Left Party, Gregor Gysi, as well as the premier of the southern state of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber. Stoiber, a key ally of Merkel, is a sometimes controversial speaker who recently caused a storm when he hit out at voters in the former East Germany who plan to vote for the left, comparing them to cows casting ballots for their butchers.

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