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Merkel tries to calm talk of rupture in coalition

Written by: Staff

BERLIN, July 7 (Reuters) German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to calm talk of an increasing divide within her grand coalition government over healthcare reform today, telling a newspaper she was confident about the government's future.

''I am very optimistic this coalition will continue to work successfully,'' she said in a full-page interview with Germany's biggest selling daily Bild, just one day after a wave of news reports pointed to escalating tensions within the government.

Merkel's Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners yesterday launched their fiercest attack on the conservative chancellor since joining her government last year, clouding the outlook for reforms.

''I am of the firm belief that the whole coalition feels duty bound to fulfil the tasks which they set out to do,'' Merkel said.

When asked how she would respond to SPD politicians who made headlines yesterday by saying Merkel was becoming the main problem within the coalition, she replied: ''I think the chancellor is expected to worry about the important things.'' Reuters AD RN1339

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