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Merkel defends Germany's early retirement plans, say they won't stop her pushing reform abroad

German chancellor Angela Merkel gestures during a news conference with French President Hollande at the town hall in Stralsund, northern Germany, Saturday, May 10, 2014 during the second day of Hollande's two days visit to Merkel's scenic home constituency on the Baltic coast . One of the main talking points is expected to be over whether the European Union should impose further sanctions on Russia, for its involvement in the Ukraine crisis. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

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German chancellor Angela Merkel gestures during a news conference with French President Hollande at the town hall in Stralsund, northern Germany, Saturday, May 10, 2014 during the second day of Hollande's two days visit to Merkel's scenic home constituency on the Baltic coast . One of the main talking points is expected to be over whether the European Union should impose further sanctions on Russia, for its involvement in the Ukraine crisis. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

BERLIN - Chancellor Angela Merkel is defending plans to allow some Germans to retire on full pensions at 63 and insisting they won't stop her advocating painful reforms in other countries.

Germany is raising the retirement age gradually to 67 from 65 but the government plans, at the insistence of Merkel's new centre-left coalition partners, to allow people who've paid into the pension system for 45 years to retire at 63 without taking a financial hit.

Some in Merkel's conservative bloc fear Germany is sending the wrong signal to struggling European countries.

Merkel said in her weekly video message Saturday that Germany remains on track to raise the retirement age for most people and even the early-retirement age will increase gradually to 65, "so I can continue to advocate structural reforms elsewhere."

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