Merkel's defense minister quits in plagiarism row

March 1, 2011 13:20

BERLIN - German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg quit on Tuesday after admitting to copying part of a doctoral dissertation, seeking to end a scandal that has shaken Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative government.

"I was always ready to fight but I've reached the limit of my powers," Guttenberg, 39, told journalists in a hastily arranged news briefing at the defense ministry in Berlin.

"I informed the chancellor in a very friendly conversation that I'm resigning from political offices and requested to be relieved. It's the most painful step of my life."

Guttenberg was the most popular member of Merkel's cabinet, and his loss is a severe blow to her party as she prepares to fight three regional state elections this month.

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