Whoever is elected to lead the Christian Democrats after Angela Merkel would be well positioned to eventually succeed her as Germany’s leader, as well, greatly raising the stakes in the December contest.
Angela Merkel's preferred successor as leader of her conservatives, CDU Secretary General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has warned the SPD that pulling out of the ruling coalition after the Hesse vote would trigger a federal election.
The AfD entered the German parliament for the first time in an election last year, drawing support from a broad array of voters angry with Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision in 2015 to welcome almost a million, mainly Muslim asylum seekers.
Stefan Meister, a Russia expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations, said that there is "an increased interest on both sides to talk about topics of common interest" and that, in part because of Trump, the two sides have shifted focus from earlier meetings that focused on Russia's conflict with Ukraine.
"Unfortunately the proposed package lacked an action plan or a clear roadmap for the continuation of cooperation. It only included some general promises like previous EU statements," Rouhani was quoted as saying by Tasmin news agency
"The meeting on Sunday is a consultation and working meeting at which there will be no concluding statement," she told a Beirut news conference alongside Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri. "It is an initial exchange with interested member states."
"What we're seeing and hearing everyday is that Europe needs to step up and Germany needs to have a strong voice there along with France and other member states (of the European Union)," said Angela Merkel during a brief statement to reporters.