Germany's opposition leader Angela Merkel failed to persuade the Greens party Friday to join talks on forming a coalition, closing another avenue for the country to escape its postelection stalemate.
The center-right opposition edged Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats in Sunday's parliamentary vote, but fell short of a majority for its program of accelerated economic reforms, the AP informs.
As Pravda.ru reported earlier today, Merkel, head of the Christian Democratic Union, held talks Friday morning with Greens leaders to sound out whether they could ally with her and the pro-business Free Democrats.
But the Greens, members of Schroeder's outgoing government coalition, declined an invitation to hold more detailed discussions because of broad dissimilarities in policy.
"The differences are very big," Merkel told reporters after the talks near the Reichstag parliament building. "I would have liked to have spoken more in detail about where we overlap, but the Greens have a different wish."
Greens party co-chairman Reinhard Buetikofer said he had challenged Merkel and Edmund Stoiber, leader of the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, to explain whether they would drop their "neo-liberal, radical market, anti-ecological policies."
"Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Stoiber didn't give us the answer, and on that basis we said we see no possibility to recommend further talks," Buetikofer said.
Many observers believe a so-called "grand coalition" of conservatives and Social Democrats is the most likely outcome of the wrangling under way since Sunday's vote.
Merkel and Schroeder held brief initial talks Thursday and agreed to meet again next week. Both said Germany needs a government stable enough to carry out further reforms to a welfare state system creaking under the burden of high unemployment and an aging population.
But they failed to resolve their competing claims to the chancellorship, sustaining speculation that both may eventually have to step down or that the country might have to vote again.
The deadlock means Germany could spend weeks without leadership at a time when economists say it needs clear direction to push through reforms to fire up its ailing economy, the world's third-largest.
On photo: Greens party co-chairman Reinhard Buetikofer.