Germany coalition talks: Merkel welcomes breakthrough

German politicians have achieved a breakthrough in talks aimed at forming a new coalition government.

A blueprint for formal negotiations was agreed between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their former coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD).

Politicians stayed up all night to discuss the 28-page document, with the talks lasting more than 24 hours.

But they managed to reach agreement on key sticking points such as migration.

They plan to limit asylum-seeker arrivals to about 200,000 annually. The blueprint also speaks of capping at 1,000 a month the number of migrants who will be allowed to join their family living in Germany.

Mrs Merkel and SPD leader Martin Schulz told a news conference they were optimistic that a new “grand coalition” could be formed.

They spoke of a “fresh start” for Germany, and Mr Schulz said that in Europe “we are determined to deploy Germany’s strength”.

Both stressed the need to ensure Germany’s “social cohesion”, a veiled recognition of voter frustration with centrist politics, amid tensions over the influx of asylum seekers.

The September election saw the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) win 94 seats in parliament – a first for post-war Germany.

Both the CDU and SPD suffered their worst election results for more than 50 years.

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