Paris (AFP) – French President Emmanuel Macron will this week meet the leaders of Germany’s Greens for the first time, an official said Wednesday, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU party grapples with unprecedented turmoil.

Macron will meet Friday with the leaders of the opposition Greens, Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock, on the sidelines of an annual security conference in Munich, a French presidential official told reporters.

The official insisted such a meeting was absolutely normal. There had been the possibility of holding the talks in Paris, but they did not happen for scheduling reasons.

“There is no need to over-interpret it… It should not be seen as any kind of interference in the political situation of our main partner,” the official added.

Yet the timing of the meeting is striking, coming in the same week that Merkel’s CDU party was plunged into disarray after her heir-apparent gave up her leadership ambitions in a deepening crisis over ties between the centre and far right.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), opted out after barely a year in the post — a period marked by internal battles over whether to cooperate with the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

She announced she was standing down as CDU leader and would not seek to be the party’s candidate for chancellor in next year’s general elections.

The Elysee insisted Macron would be meeting German politicians across the spectrum on Saturday morning and would also hold talks with Markus Soeder, the head of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU.

The crisis has intensified questions about the future of Merkel’s current coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and raised the possibility of the Greens returning to government.

Germany’s Greens have surged in popularity in recent months and they now routinely come second in surveys behind Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc.

As a result, the Greens could shake up the political landscape in the next general election, slated for 2021, and play a key role in deciding Germany’s next government.