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German chancellor Angela Merkel announced her intention to seek an end to European Union membership talks with Turkey during her sole face-to-face TV showdown with challenger Martin Schulz on Sunday, putting ties with Ankara centre-stage in Germany's election campaign.

"The fact is clear that Turkey should not become a member of the EU", Merkel said in the debate with her Social Democrat (SPD) challenger Martin Schulz.

The victory in the TV debate between key candidates for the post of Chancellor, which took place on Sunday evening, September 3, was won by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Angela Merkel). But she cautioned against pulling the plug on Turkey's accession talks right now, adding such a step should be considered cautiously.

Ms Merkel balanced her newfound hard line over accession with promises to maintain dialogue with Turkey, not least over the 12 detained Germans.

Polls published after the televised debate put the chancellor ahead in the crucial clash.

Brussels, which has already frozen Turkey's entry negotiations, is now likely to consider further actions.

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The SPD chairman Schulz criticized that Merkel had not voted with the European partners at the beginning of the refugee crisis in autumn 2015, however, Merkel defended her decision of two years ago to allow over about 1 million refugees to enter Germany, mostly from war-torn Middle East and North Africa, that she could not act otherwise.

However, she has also spoken out against costly hardware fixes for diesel engines, refused to commit to a date by when Germany should phase out fossil fuel-powered cars, as Britain and France have vowed to do by 2040, or to commit to a plan for binding quotas on electric cars.

In a debate that covered a range of topics - but was notable for what was left out, including Brexit, Russia and the future of the euro - Schulz repeatedly argued that he would have done what Merkel did, just more successfully.

Merkel responded: "We had a very dramatic situation then.There are times in the life of a chancellor when she has to decide".

But both leaders agreed to promise action on one of the most sensitive political issues, delays in the deportation of failed asylum seekers.