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West German chancellor challenges opponents

West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, seeking to end growing doubts about his government's future, Thursday challenged the conservative opposition to try to topple him and defied his coalition partners to quit.

Responding to Mr. Schmidt's state-of-the-nation-speech to Parliament, Free Democratic Party leader and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said negotiations this fall on next year's budget shortfall would determine whether his party stays in the government. Helmut Kohl, Christian Democratic Union opposition leader, hinted he might use a so-called constructive no-confidence motion to try to oust the government after regional elections.

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Political analysts said Mr. Genscher almost certainly prepared the way for leaving the coalition over the budget after the elections.