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Merkel apologises following ex-spy chief crisis that threatened coalition

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Merkel apologises following ex-spy chief crisis that threatened coalition

German Chacellor Angela Merkel with former spy chief Hans-Georg Maassen
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Angela Merkel has apologised following the controversial promotion of a scandal-tainted spymaster that threatened the government's fragile six-month coalition.

"I regret very much that that was allowed to happen," the German Chancellor said Monday, adding that she "focused too much" on the functioning of the interior ministry instead of taking into account people's feelings on the matter.

Her admission came after Germany’s interior minister said Sunday that the ruling coalition had agreed on a way to solve the crisis.

The row initially erupted after domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen faced accusations of harbouring far-right views when he questioned the authenticity of video footage showing radicals hounding migrants in the eastern city of Chemnitz.

That prompted coalition parties to announce on Tuesday that he would be moved from his post to a better-paid job at the Interior Ministry, a decision that sparked public outrage.

Andrea Nahles, leader of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) which is a junior partner in the conservative-led alliance, said on Friday the plan was a mistake, prompting concerns about the fate of the coalition running Europe’s biggest economy.

After a meeting between the parties on Sunday to hammer out a new compromise, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said they had agreed Maassen would work as a special adviser in the Interior Ministry in future but he would not receive any pay rise.

Seehofer, who said the decision about pay was a response to the heavy public criticism of the initial plan, said the coalition had not been at risk of falling apart over the affair.

Sunday’s meeting in the chancellery was between Merkel, her conservative Bavarian ally Seehofer and the SPD’s Nahles.