German parties to resume push for coalition deal

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The prospective partners in Germany's new government are resuming their push to nail down a coalition deal.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats originally set a Sunday deadline to wrap up talks on extending their alliance of the past four years, but budgeted two extra days as a precaution when formal negotiations started Jan. 26.

Negotiators voiced optimism that a deal was possible Monday. Still on the table are two points that are important to the Social Democrats: curbing the use of temporary work contracts and tackling differences between Germany's public and private health insurance systems.

The coalition-building effort won't finish with these talks. A deal will have to be approved in a ballot of the Social Democrats' members, many of whom are skeptical.