Speculation is growing that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in general elections next year.

Merkel refused to comment on the possibility during a press conference with U.S. President Barack Obama last week. She said she would announce her plans when the time was right.

However, the 62-year-old chancellor is expected to talk about a possible candidacy during a Sunday night news conference at the Berlin headquarters of her political party, the Christian Democrats.

Several high-ranking party members and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel have in recent days said they expect Merkel to run for re-election in 2017.

Merkel became Germany's first female head of government in 2005.

She also is the first leader of a reunited Germany to have grown up under communism in the former East Germany.