Germany's SPD says talks with Merkel's conservatives to start Wednesday

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Chancellor Angela Merkel will make a last push on Sunday to forge a government in a twin battle to save her political future.

BERLIN - A senior member of Germany&39;s Social Democrats (SPD) said on Friday her party would start exploratory talks on Wednesday with Chancellor Angela Merkel&39;s conservatives on forming a coalition, a move that could end the political impasse in Europe&39;s largest economy.

Andrea Nahles, the parliamentary leader of the SPD, said the result of the talks was still open. "It&39;s no more and no less than having talks at the moment," she said.

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The SPD voted on Thursday to hold talks with the conservatives after SPD leader Martin Schulz made an impassioned plea for a free hand to work for a social "United States of Europe".

The exploratory talks will be held to determine whether they can foresee working together, before deciding whether to proceed to full-blown coalition talks.

Merkel is hoping the SPD will agree to a re-run of the "grand coalition" that has governed Germany for the last four years. Talks with the environmentalist Greens and liberal Free Democrats (FDP) on a three-way alliance collapsed.

Merkel&39;s conservatives and the SPD lost support in September elections, complicating the coalition arithmetic and leaving their coalition in place as a caretaker government.