German parties begin formal talks on new 'grand coalition'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting with the leaders of smaller parties Friday for the start of formal talks on forming a new governing coalition.

Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, their Bavaria-only sister party and the center-left Social Democrats all took a beating in last September's national election.

The long-time chancellor's attempts at forming a previously untested coalition with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats failed last year.

Social Democrats leader Martin Schulz faces strong opposition from his own party members to a renewal of the "grand coalition" that's governed Germany since 2013.

The three parties are aiming to complete negotiations within two weeks, after which the deal will be put to Social Democrat members for approval.