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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she was not sure that EU leaders will be able to reach a deal on the bloc's contentious 2014-20 budget.
"We can not say yet if there will be an agreement ... the positions are still quite far from each other," Merkel said as she went into a summit dominated by differences over the budget, with Germany among those seeking cuts to spending.
The chancellor said she would try everything to get a deal that would to allow the 27-nation bloc to move ahead at a time of economic difficulty.
Agreement now was of great importance, she said, after a special November summit ended in acrimony when leaders could not agree on cuts and spending priorities.
Merkel highlighted the need for a balance between all sides in settling the budget.
"In these times of economic insecurity and high unemployment it is of great importance that we can plan and that we spend money carefully on the one hand, but that there is solidarity between net payers and receiving countries on the other hand," she said.