Merkel Backs End to EU-Turkey Membership Talks in a Shift

Hamburg

Hamburg

Speaking in a TV interview last week, she labelled diesel and other combustion engines "bridge technologies" toward a cleaner future that "will be needed not just for years but, I would say, for decades more".

On North Korea, which conducted its sixth nuclear test early Sunday, she said that "peaceful resolution is the only way forward" - a clear departure from Trump's position that all options, military included, are on the table.

The moment was all the more dramatic because by being the first to pledge ending accession talks, Mr Schulz broke with an SPD tradition in which the party has always been more positive about Ankara's European Union bid than Ms Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats.

Angela Merkel successfully fended off the attacks of her main election rival during a largely consensual live TV debate watched by millions of voters.

"If I become German chancellor, if the people of this country give me a mandate, then I will propose to the European Council that we end the membership talks with Turkey", Mr Schulz said.

The exchange over Turkey was the high point of a wide-ranging debate in which Mr Schulz attacked Ms Merkel with surprising force over Turkey and also over refugee policy.

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Ms Merkel balanced her newfound hard line over accession with promises to maintain dialogue with Turkey, not least over the 12 detained Germans. More than half of viewers, 55 percent, named Merkel the victor, according to an ARD poll. Both Merkel and Schulz see no issue with Muslim immigration to Germany, but Merkel said the 2015 refugee crisis has left Germany with a "difficult task" of integrating new arrivals into society, making sure they find places in educational institutions and the labor market.

Brussels, which has already frozen Turkey's entry negotiations, is now likely to consider further actions.

Schulz, who leads Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party, said the USA president had "brought the world to the edge of a crisis" and can not be trusted to resolve the standoff with North Korea.

Three weeks before the federal election, Merkel and her party lead in all polls, including personal popularity surveys.

Erdogan added to the tensions this month when he urged ethnic Turks in Germany to vote against Merkel's conservatives and their coalition partners, the Social Democrats, in September 24 elections.

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