January 19, 2018 / 5:09 PM / a year ago

Merkel upbeat SPD will approve talks with her conservatives

PARIS, Jan 19 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday she was optimistic that Social Democrats (SPD) would approve the start of formal coalition talks with her conservatives at a special party congress this weekend.

Speaking in Paris, Merkel said she saw no major difference between French President Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious vision for Europe and a blueprint for coalition talks hammered out by conservatives and the SPD.

“Germany and France can and should take the lead on many questions (related to Europe) and therefore I understand that France is waiting that we have a new government,” Merkel said during a joint news conference with Macron.

She added: “On a broad basis, there is absolutely no difference that I see. It is a Europe that must have a common foreign policy on strategic questions, a Europe that must create its own development policies, a Europe of defence, and it is a Europe that has to be economically strong.”

She said the two countries could make relatively quick progress on areas such as a common corporate tax structure and a banking union for the euro zone. (Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Joseph Nasr in Berlin; Editing by Andrea Shalal)

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