German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats are starting talks on forming a new government, attempting to break an impasse more than three months after the country's election.
Merkel's conservative Union bloc and the Social Democrats have run Germany together for the past four years. But the Social Democrats vowed to go into opposition after a disastrous election result September 24, and only reluctantly reconsidered after Merkel's attempt to build a coalition with two smaller parties collapsed in November.
The effort to form a government has already become post- World War II Germany's longest. Leaders aim to decide by Friday whether there's enough common ground to move on to formal coalition negotiations, which would require approval by a Social Democrat congress.