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)