German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives are in talks with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) with the goal of having a new 'grand coalition' government in place by Christmas.
The parties have created 16 working groups that are charged with proposing policy compromises on a range of issues, from economic and banking policy to the euro and energy.
Below are the latest details on the talks and comments from participants:
* SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel stressed that his party would not sign a coalition agreement with Merkel's conservatives unless they agreed to a statutory minimum wage: 'Without a minimum wage there will be no coalition anyway.'
Chancellor Merkel said: 'We know that we will have to be prepared to compromise on the issue of a minimum wage.'
* Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the parties involved in coalition negotiations broadly agreed on European policy: 'After the first discussions I can see that on the whole we do not have very different positions.'
Schaeuble said he had presented in the last round of talks the ideas on banking union he plans to take into consultations between euro zone finance ministers in mid-November. These entail not using taxpayers' money to rescue banks, he said.
'I didn't hear anybody sitting at the table contradict that. On the contrary, the SPD said: That's how we'll do it,' he said.
* The working group on finance and budget is approaching an agreement to scrap 'cold progression' in income tax, a mechanism whereby the treasury takes in billions of euros in revenue because tax brackets are not adjusted for inflation.
* The foreign affairs and defence working group will delay a formal description of Germany's ties with the United States to have time to assess the results of meetings between German and U.S. security officials. Germany wants assurances there will be no further surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency.
* Conservatives in the environment and agriculture working group want better protection from aircraft noise, which could mean extending a night-flight ban. Their negotiating positions also include support for further research into fracking for oil and gas extraction and a shift to energy generation from waste food and farm produce instead of specially grown biofuel crops.
* The push by the Christian Social Union (CSU) - the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union - for a motorway toll for foreign drivers is still contentious. The SPD objects to charging only foreigners, though the European Commission says it could be done by charging all drivers, then compensating German taxpayers. Both camps agree on the need for 11 billion euros' investment in transport infrastructure over the next four years.
(Compiled by Berlin bureau; Editing by Gareth Jones and Susan Fenton) Keywords: GERMANY COALITION/
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