German ruling coalition puts on show of unity

BERLIN - Germany's center-right coalition, shaken by a row last month in choosing a candidate for the German Presidency, put on a show of unity on Sunday as party leaders held their first formal talks of 2012 and side-stepped the more divisive issues.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has come under intense strain in recent months due to parties' squabbles over eurozone policy and taxation, and almost ruptured a fortnight ago when the junior partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), defiantly backed the opposition's presidential candidate.
During two and a half hours of talks in Berlin late on Sunday party leaders struck several agreements, including giving Germany's consumer advisory body (Stiftung Warentest) an extra 1.5 million euros so it could shed more light on financial products.
Hermann Groehe, general secretary of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) praised the "very good, collegial atmosphere." Leaders of other parties echoed his comments.
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