Turkey coalition talks fail; new elections loom

Many in the ruling party favor new elections as prospects for an alliance look dim

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Efforts on Thursday by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to forge a coalition alliance with the country's pro-secular party failed, edging Turkey closer toward new elections as it grapples with escalating violence.

Davutoglu said discussions with pro-secular party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu were frank but the two party leaders could not reach common ground for a power-sharing deal.

"The likelihood of going to (elections) has increased. In fact, it has become the only option," Davutoglu said after the talks that lasted less than two hours.

He did not say when the elections could be held but said a date should be set "at the closest time possible."

Davutoglu's Islamic-rooted ruling party lost its majority in June elections, forcing it to seek a coalition to remain in power. The deadline for forming a government is the end of next week.

A sharp surge of violence in Turkey and the more front-line role taken by the country in a U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State group has increased pressure on the ruling party - which currently heads an interim government - to form a coalition alliance and end the political uncertainty.

Dozens have been killed in renewed clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels, while Turkish jets have conducted air raids on IS targets in Syria and Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq. U.S. jets on Wednesday launched their first airstrikes against IS targets in Syria from a key Turkish air base.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who founded the ruling party and remains influential, is reported to prefer new elections in the hopes that the party can win back its majority. Officials say the party's grassroots is also opposed to a coalition with the pro-secular party.

On Wednesday, Erdogan spoke of the need for a strong rule and said Davutoglu "would not commit suicide" if no coalition is formed.

Delegations from the ruling party and Kemal Kilicdaroglu's secular party have held a series of meetings in search of common grounds for a partnership despite their deep-seated rivalries. The sides said they reached consensus on many issues but news reports say differences remain on key issues, including foreign policy, education and the president's role.

Kilicdaroglu accused Erdogan earlier this month of obstructing the coalition efforts.

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