BERLIN (AP) " German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared Friday that she feels a duty to serve her country and Europe, adding fuel to rampant speculation she'll seek a fourth term when Germany holds a general election next fall.
After she hosted a meeting of outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama and the leaders of Spain, Italy, France and Britain, Merkel was asked by reporters how she sees her short- and long-term responsibilities.
"I want to perform my task as German chancellor, which on the one hand is to serve the people of Germany, but it also includes working for the cohesion and success of Europe," she replied.
Merkel, 62, is scheduled to hold a news conference late Sunday after meeting with senior members of her Christian Democratic Union party.
So far, she has refused to say if she plans to run again
But with Europe facing an unresolved conflict in Ukraine, tough talks over Britain's exit from the European Union and a politically sensitive influx of migrants, whether Merkel will remain as leader of Europe's biggest economy has generated interest.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who recently won his country's Parliament's backing to head a minority government after 10 months of political deadlock, said Germany's stability was important for Europe as a whole.
"It's fundamental for Europe that things go well in Germany, as fortunately they are at this moment," he said.
Rajoy noted the headway that populist political groups on both the left and the right have made in Europe lately. In Germany, Merkel faces fierce opposition over her decision to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees last year.
"I'm confident, although next year will be a difficult one from an election point of view in Europe, that things will begin returning to normal," Rajoy said.
After the meeting in Berlin, Merkel appeared keen to downplay recent descriptions of her as the last great defender of Western values following Donald Trump's election.
"One person alone can never solve everything," she said. "We are only strong together."
Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed to this report.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings