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BERLIN (AP) - The German government is launching a last-ditch effort to salvage a deal with Switzerland that aims to crack down on German tax cheats who hide money in Swiss banks.

The German Parliament's upper house, where Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right government lacks a majority, has blocked the agreement. Germany's center-left opposition says the accord, meant to take effect Jan. 1, is still too soft on tax evaders.

Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said the Cabinet decided Wednesday to take the issue to a committee that mediates disputes between Parliament's lower and upper houses.

Seibert says the government hopes "good sense will win the upper hand." But it isn't clear what concessions it can offer and the opposition doesn't appear inclined to back off its stance as Germany looks toward elections next year.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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