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Germany's Rival Party Leaders Hold Coalition Talks after Inconclusive Election

Germany's rival political party leaders have held their first face-to-face talks on their competing claims to lead the nation after its inconclusive parliamentary election.

Christian Democratic leader Angela Merkel noted clear differences between the sides, but said she and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder agreed to meet again Wednesday.

The Christian Democrats beat the Chancellor's Social Democrats in Sunday's legislative poll. But the margin was so slim that Mr. Schroeder has refused to acknowledge defeat.

Both sides say the country needs a stable government and Ms. Merkel rejected suggestions that she could head a minority cabinet.

Earlier, some of the Social Democratic leaders suggested that their party is the largest grouping in parliament. But later they denied plans to change parliamentary rules to have the Christian Democrats and their allies, Bavaria's Christian Social Party, viewed as two different groups - not a single faction as at present.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.