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Germany's Merkel says she'll stay in charge until at least 2017, dismisses talk of early exit

Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will carry on leading Germany until at least 2017 — dismissing recent speculation that she may step down before her third term is up.

Merkel, who won a third four-year term last year, has led Germany since late 2005 and turned 60 on Thursday. Her birthday has been accompanied by a spate of media speculation that she could choose to quit early.

Merkel noted Friday that she ran last year for a full term. She told reporters in Berlin: "People in Germany can assume that I will do what I told them. Everything else (comes) later."

Merkel dominates her conservative Union bloc and hasn't cultivated any single obvious successor. She hasn't said whether she would be interested in a fourth term.