German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday ruled out imposing a ceiling for the number of refugees Germany will take should she win September elections, highlighting a key differences in her conservative political bloc regarding asylum seekers.

"I do not intend to change the position here," Merkel told a press conference in Munich after her Christian Democrats' (CDU) Bavarian-based allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), agreed to back her as their common chancellor candidate at the election.

Monday's agreement between the CDU and CSU to draw up a common party election platform with Merkel as their standard-bearer is also aimed at heading off a new surge in support for the Social Democrats (SPD).

But, despite the attempt by Merkel and CSU leader Horst Seehofer to present a united front at Monday's press conference, their two parties failed to bridge their differences on imposing a limit on refugees.

The sharp rise in support for the SPD comes after the left-leaning party surprised the nation's political establishment by nominating former European Parliament president Martin Schulz to lead the party in the September 24 election.

While Schulz is a well-established figure on the European political stage, he remains somewhat unknown in Germany, leading analysts to suggest that his outsider status has added to his current political appeal.

Merkel said she respected her new SPD challenger.

"I have approached my challengers in all elections with respect," she said.

Merkel's CDU backed her as its candidate for chancellor at a party conference in December, but the CSU had not declared its support until this week's meeting.

The two-day meeting between CDU and CSU leaders, which wound up on Monday, was aimed at ending months of tensions between the two parties, which normally mount joint national election campaigns.

Relations between the two parties have been strained since Seehofer spearheaded criticism of Merkel's decision in September 2015 to open Germany's borders to allow hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers into the nation.

Since then, Merkel, 62, has repeatedly rebuffed Seehofer's demand that she impose a ceiling on the number of refugees, opening up a deep division between the CDU-CSU.

Pollsters say the tensions in the CDU-CSU over Merkel's refugee stance has contributed to a sharp fall in support for both parties.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.