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BERLIN (AP) - The German government has failed in an attempt to salvage a deal that was meant to end a long-running dispute with Switzerland over German tax cheats who hide money in Swiss banks.

A committee that mediates disputes between Parliament's upper and lower house decided Wednesday the deal shouldn't be ratified. Chancellor Angela Merkel's government sent it to the committee after the agreement was rejected by the upper house, where the government lacks a majority.

The deal would have allowed Germans with undeclared assets in neighboring Switzerland to escape punishment by making a one-time payment of between 21 and 41 percent of the value of their assets in Switzerland. Germany's center-left opposition said it was too soft on tax evaders.

Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said she regrets the committee's decision.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)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