In the sole TV debate between the two lead candidates ahead of the vote, Schulz took direct aim at Merkel's Turkey policy on Sunday night, telling her that "the only language understood by the government in Ankara is 'That's enough!'" He said that if he was elected chancellor, he would push for breaking off accession talks immediately.
Her spokesman later tried to limit the damage by insisting that talks with Turkey were already dormant.
But after the debate moderators had moved on and asked the two candidates a question about US President Donald Trump, Dr Merkel returned to the Turkey issue, suddenly throwing her weight behind an end to the membership talks.More news: Froome ticks off another summit finish to boost historic Vuelta bid
Mr Erdogan responded yesterday by accusing German politicians of indulging in populism, but added that he hoped strained relations would improve.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said August 25 that Germany was pushing its limits at a foreign ministers' meeting between Turkey, Poland and Romania. However, accession talks have ground to a virtual halt and European Union leaders have stepped up their criticism of Mr Erdogan. "Attacking Erdogan-Turkey, in a fashion disregarding Germany and Europe's main and immediate problems, is a reflection of the narrowing horizons in Europe".
"The lawyer of one of the affected people told us that he has now been freed, without restrictions", said a German foreign ministry spokesman, adding that the ministry was still seeking independent confirmation of the release.More news: Iran, Syria tie in World Cup qualifier
"So, we will continue talks, it will be up to the internal discussions we will have and most of all to the discussions we will have together with them to define the future of our relations", she said at the end of an economic forum on Monday.
She is expected to arrive in Germany in the next few days.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Turkey remained a partner in the region and was still a candidate country.More news: All Myanmar Muslims suffering state-backed persecution: Rights group
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