Challenger Fails To Take Down Merkel In Only Debate Before Election

However, a good chunk of the German public say they are still undecided.

"Whoever is the next chancellor has the task to tell Turkey in order to protect the Federal Republic of Germany: all red lines have now been crossed, and therefore this country can no longer become a member of the EU", Schulz said.

In their exchange on Trump and North Korea, Schulz accused the USA president of "bringing the world to the brink of crisis with his tweets" and said Germany should work with its European partners, Canada, Mexico and Trump's domestic US opponents.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday she would seek an end to Turkey's membership talks with the European Union in an apparent shift of her position during a televised debate weeks before a German election.

Merkel's tough stance came after Turkey arrested two more German citizens this past week "for political reasons", infuriating Berlin.

There was no immediate reaction from Turkey which is in the midst of a national religious holiday.

Mrs Merkel made the promise after being challenged by her main rival for chancellor, Martin Schulz. "And still I will make every effort to persuade as many people as possible that this was the right thing to do and that we should continue on this path together". "But I will fight for this".

She said she will discuss with other European Union leaders to determine if "we can end these membership talks". "Such a step must be well considered", said the German chancellor.

Merkel's CDU party and their Bavarian CSU allies are commanding a strong 17-percentage point lead over the SPD ahead of the September 24 polls.

The decision to open Germany's borders boosted the nationalist Alternative for Germany party, which is expected to enter Parliament for the first time as a result of the September 24 vote.

The accession talks have ground to a virtual halt and European Union leaders have stepped up their criticism of Erdogan.


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