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Greens demand C02 pledge before continuing German coalition talks

BERLIN - The leader of Germany's Greens on Saturday said the pro-business Free Democrats must agree to honour existing carbon dioxide reduction promises before her party would continue coalition talks.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose conservative alliance suffered its worst result in September elections since 1949, is trying to forge a tricky three-way coalition with the FDP and Greens that has never been tested at a national level.
Simone Peter, who co-chairs the environmental party, said it was nonsense to continue talks unless the FDP committed to a 2007 pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
"Before exploratory talks continue, the FDP must accept unconditionally the climate protection goals," Peter told Reuters in an interview. "Otherwise the talks make no sense."
The exploratory talks are to continue Monday after what one negotiator called "a big clash" and the failure to reach agreement on immigration as well as climate policy during an 11-hour session on Thursday.
Manfred Weber, a senior member of the Bavarian conservative CSU, said negotiations would be "very difficult", but his party still aimed to reach a deal by year-end.
Immigration also remains a touchy topic. Many conservatives want to take a harder line after blaming their election setback on Merkel's decision to open Germany to more than a million migrants in 2015 and 2016.
They insist that an agreement by Merkel's CDU and the CSU on guidelines that would limit annual refugee numbers must form the basis of any coalition accord. The Greens reject such a cap.
Peter said the compromise used a different word but still amounted to a cap. She criticised efforts to play off asylum-seekers against other refugees wanting to join family members already granted asylum. "That's a no-go," she said.
The right to asylum is guaranteed under Germany's constitution.
The Greens leader also accused the FDP of "foul play" by suggesting that the Greens had agreed to completely eliminate a "solidarity tax" for poor eastern states, saying such a move would exacerbate lingering social divisions.
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