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German parties at 'pain threshold' on immigration in coalition talks

From Reuters - November 19, 2017

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germanys would-be coalition partners appeared to be stalled over the thorny issue of immigration policy on Sunday despite inching closer to agreement on other major sticking points including climate policy.

An awkward alliance with the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens would allow Chancellor Angela Merkel to govern for a fourth term after her conservatives lost votes in Septembers election to the far right.

However the three-way combination is untested at national level. With negotiations running deep into overtime, leaders are urging each other to make painful compromises in order to bind parties that are ideologically far apart into a stable government for Europes largest economy.

A self-imposed deadline of Thursday for wrapping up exploratory talks passed without agreement, but negotiators said the Greens welcomed a Sunday offer to boost wind generation and shutter 7 gigawatts of dirty coal generation capacity.

(Parties) cannot go in with maximal demands, said Greens co-leader Cem Ozdemir. They have to be prepared, out of responsibility, or call it patriotism, to move - and we have done that in every area, right up to the pain threshold.

While snags remain on taxes and public finances, the trickiest sticking point concerns immigration, where Merkels arch-conservative allies in Bavarias Christian Social Union (CSU) insist on capping new arrivals at 200,000 a year.

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