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LEIPZIG: German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to suggest on Saturday that she might return to academia at the end of her current term in office, which ends in 2021.

"All universities that have given me an honorary doctorate will anyway hear from me again when I'm no longer chancellor," Merkel, who has been in office since 2005, said in a speech at the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management.

HHL gave Merkel, a former physicist, the honorary qualification at a ceremony attended by Christine Lagarde, the nominee to become next head of the European Central Bank.

"I will return and will not be staying for a short time like today. (I) will be staying longer," said Merkel, drawing laughter from the audience.

There has been growing doubt that Merkel will get to serve her last term as chancellor in full.

Her conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) partners face losing a lot of support to the far right in elections in two eastern German states on Sunday, potentially putting further strain on the coalition.

Merkel stepped down as leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party last year after painful losses in state elections and said her current term would be her last.

Copyright Reuters, 2019