Following first talks with Merkel late on Thursday, Schulz said he would recommend that the SPD begin formal discussions with her conservatives but firmly denied a media report this meant he was committing to joining a new government.
SPD representatives subsequently told press that Schulz informed German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Angela Merkel and CSU leader Horst Seehofer on Thursday that no coalition talks could take place prior to the upcoming SPD party conference next week.
Speaking after Schulz's statement, CDU chief executive Klaus Schüler said his party respected what the SPD chairman had to say and would wait for the Social Democrats to make a decision about whether to officially pursue talks.
"We have many options for forming a government".
"Whoever circulates false reports destroys trust", he said.
But it came under pressure to relent and head off fresh elections after Merkel's bid to form a coalition with the ecologist Greens and pro-business FDP fell apart last month. "We should discuss all of these options and that is what I will recommend to the party leadership Monday".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference
While SPD leadership was willing to enter non-binding, preliminary negotiations concerning the formation of a new German government, the party first wanted to secure approval for this step from its membership base.
Schulz also said he wants changes in Germany's approach to the European Union.
According to Schulz, the key demands of his party are a need to reform the European Union, improve healthcare, as well as the European Union and answer French President Emmanuel Macron's Eurozone reform proposals positively.
The unusually testy tone Schulz struck is a reflection of the differences between conservatives and Social Democrats not just over the policies of a possible grand coalition, but whether even to try to form one at all.
In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Schulz said the SPD backed French President Emmanuel Macron's call for closer eurozone integration, including a new finance minister for the currency bloc - ideas that face resistance from conservatives. Steinmeier and Merkel are both keen to prevent the need for re-elections, leaving a re-launch of the acting "grand coalition" between the CDU/CSU and SPD as the only plausible alternative.More news: 4.4-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Near Dover, Del. - Felt Along East Coast
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