Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz on Friday denied an earlier report that his party was ready to start grand coalition talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Conservatives Union, but kept the options open. Merkel's conservative bloc and the SPD lost support in that vote, while an anti-immigrant party surged into parliament, seriously complicating the coalition arithmetic.
The SPD has repeatedly rejected to joint hands with the Union after its landslide failure in the federal elections.
The newspaper said the participants - Merkel, her Bavarian ally Horst Seehofer and Schulz - had discussed various options for forming a government, including a grand coalition, setting up a minority government under Merkel, and holding new elections.
He said whoever circulated such reports was damaging trust.
Schulz sounded more skeptical, however, saying the talks hosted by Steinmeier would be about "if and in which form" they would continue discussions and "if it even makes sense to continue to talk with one another". Her attempts to form a three-way tie-up with the pro-business Free Democratic party (FDP) and the Greens failed.
The CDU leader also said talks with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) would have to be conducted on the basis of mutual respect, and the compromise is part of it.
Mueller removed top Federal Bureau of Investigation agent after anti-Trump texts
President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us". Mr Comey refused and Mr Trump fired him as well.
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.
The meeting of the SPD's rank and file next Thursday will be a key date as Germany anxiously awaits signs of its next government.
A rebellion is already brewing over entering into a new grand coalition, known as "GroKo" in German. But for the SPD the situation isn't almost as clear. It is important to wait and see how the SPD positions itself.
But that is something that Merkel is hoping to avoid.
Germany's new government is still in vacancy after the September 24 federal elections and the exploratory talks between the Union, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens broke down on the night of November 19.