Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz has stated that he hasn't yet given a green light for a coalition with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Conservative union, adding that there are many options to form a government and all of them should be discussed.
But, following an appeal from President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Mr Schulz agreed to meet Ms Merkel and Horst Seehofer, leader of her Bavarian sister party, on Thursday night for talks.
Noting that his party and Ms Merkel's bloc continue to govern as a caretaker government, he said: "We have no time pressure" and would "not rule out any options".
After his party's disastrous result in the September 24 election Schultz had ruled out forming another so-called grand coalition with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and Bavarian-only sister party, the Christian Social Union, like the one that has governed Germany for the last four years. "We need a fresh start in the European Union", he said.
Schulz said he had telephoned the CDU leader to say that any such claims from her conservatives to the media would be viewed as "a breach of trust".
He said that the SPD leadership's decisions early in the week would be presented to other party members during a meeting next Thursday and Friday for approval.
"We have a lot of options for building a government". Merkel and Erdogan also spoke about the importance of cooperating against terror groups, including Kurdish rebels and agreed to increase discussions once a new German government is formed.
"It's not automatic that there will be a new grand coalition", Schulz told reporters in Berlin.
The youth branch of the SPD is organising a petition which rejects a third grand coalition under Merkel and advocates that the centre-left should tolerate a Christian Democrat minority government instead.
"Giving Emmanuel Macron a positive answer will be a key element in every negotiation with the SPD", Mr Schulz was quoted as saying in an interview on Friday.
Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament, is pushing for changes in Germany's approach to the European Union and in economic and social policy.