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Senior SPD members back coalition talks with Germany's Merkel

BERLIN, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Senior members of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) have agreed to the launch of coalition talks with Angela Merkel next week, after leaders promised them they would wring concessions from the German chancellor including a nationwide minimum wage.

The majority of the 200 SPD members polled backed a statement agreeing to the start of formal talks with Merkel's conservatives on a number of conditions. Thirty one members voted against, sources at the vote told Reuters.

Merkel's conservative bloc emerged as the strongest political force in the Sept. 22 election but fell just shy of parliamentary majority, forcing the chancellor to seek a coalition ally. The SPD must win over grassroots members sceptical of repeating the "grand coalition" they served in with Merkel from 2005-2009.