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Merkel refuses to be drawn on successor question

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Bavarian State Premier Markus Soeder attend a news conference after a Bavarian state cabinet meeting at Herrenchiemsee Island, Germany, July 14, 2020. Peter Kneffel/Pool via Reuters/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Angela Merkel refused to be drawn on whether Armin Laschet, premier of Germany’s most populous state, should succeed her as chancellor, saying only that he was a candidate with many qualities.

Laschet, premier of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is one of the leading candidates to run as the chancellor candidate of the conservative bloc. His main rival is Markus Soeder, premier of Bavaria.

“I have always said I will not get involved in the debate about a successor for the position I have or had,” she said. “Armin Laschet is running and, as the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, he brings a lot of qualifications with him. But other than that I won’t get involved.”

Merkel was speaking at a news conference with Laschet after attending a meeting of the state’s cabinet on Tuesday. Last month, she gave a similar non-committal response after attending a session of the Bavarian cabinet, declining to indicate support for any candidate.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Michelle Martin