Reuters International

German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens during the news conference in Warsaw, Poland, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Sources in Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat (CDU) party on Saturday denied a magazine report that said the German leader was delaying an announcement until spring 2017 on whether she will run for a fourth term in next year's federal election.

Der Spiegel reported that Merkel had originally planned to announce in spring 2016 whether she would stand for election but cited CDU sources as saying the delay to next spring was needed as Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) - the CDU's Bavarian sister party - did not want to decide until then whether his party will support Merkel again.

Two CDU sources told Reuters it was not true Merkel had originally wanted to announce in spring 2016 that she would run once more for the post of chancellor.

Armin Laschet, deputy chairman of the CDU, suggested the timing of any announcement had not been set, saying: "How can you delay a decision that is not due yet?"

He suggested that he expected Merkel to run: "Many people around Germany hope that Angela Merkel will remain chancellor. It's up to her to decide when she'll comment on 2017."

The CSU takes a tougher line on immigration than Merkel's CDU and the two parties have frequently clashed over how to deal with an influx of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.

Merkel's popularity has taken a hit after two Islamist attacks in July, which put the spotlight on the liberal migrant policy she championed. More than 1 million people fleeing war and poverty arrived in Germany in 2015 and a recent poll showed 52 percent of Germans deem her migrant policy bad.

The magazine said people close to Merkel feared that if she announced she would run for chancellor again without Seehofer's support, it would hurt her politically.

In December the CDU holds its federal party convention, during which the CDU chairperson is due to be elected. CDU sources told Reuters nobody expected her to leave that position.

Asked about her plans for the 2017 election in an interview with regional newspapers published on Tuesday, Merkel left it open whether she would run: "I will comment on that at the appropriate time. I'm sticking to that," she said.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin and Andreas Rinke; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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