Soeder backs Laschet as German conservative chancellor candidate

North Rhine-Westphalia's State Premier and head of Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party Armin Laschet speaks to journalists after meetings at the CDU headquarters in Berlin, Germany, April 19, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

BERLIN (Reuters) - The leader of Germany's southern state of Bavaria on Tuesday backed his rival Armin Laschet as the chancellor candidate of their conservative bloc to replace Angela Merkel after a general election in September.

"The die is cast: Armin Laschet will be the chancellor candidate of the Union," Markus Soeder, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Bavarian sister party of Laschet's Christian Democrats (CDU) told a news conference.

"The CDU met yesterday and decided. We accept that, and I respect that," Soeder said, ending a damaging rift in the CDU/CSU alliance known as 'the Union.' "I called Armin Laschet and congratulated him. I told him that we as the CSU accept it. We offered him our full support. We will support him without a grudge and with all our power."

(Reporting by Paul Carrel; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

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