Sunday, 19 August, 2018

G-7 summit with Trump was a ‘sobering’ experience, Merkel says

GETTYMerkel tried to lighten the mood by cracking a joke with the US leader GETTYMerkel tried to lighten the mood by cracking a joke with the US leader
Deanna Wagner | 14 June, 2018, 16:30

Seehofer - who is locked in an open migration feud with Merkel that is threatening the stability of her coalition government - said that he and his far-right Austrian and Italian counterparts, Herbert Kickl and Matteo Salvini, formed their alliance this week.

"I accepted that. And we will push ahead with it", Seehofer told a news conference in Berlin.

Asked whether she supported the new "axis" on migration, Merkel said only that she backed "a shared European answer to the questions of illegal migration but also forms of legal migration".

The SPD and opposition politicians have accused Seehofer, a former leader of Bavaria, where the majority of refugees have entered Germany, of putting the interests of his southern state before European Union cohesion.

"The prime minister said nothing he hasn't said before-both in public, and in private conversations with the president", Trudeau's office announced in a statement, according to Reuters.

The CSU faces a state election in October in which it is desperate to stave off the challenge of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has been eating away at its support.

Touching the thorny issue of Germany's relatively low defence spending, Merkel acknowledged that Trump's criticism was partly correct and that Berlin had to do more to reach NATO's goal of spending to 2 percent of economic output on defence.

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Seehofer, the former premier of conservative Bavaria state, has always been one of the fiercest critics of Merkel's decision to open Germany's borders at the height of Europe's migration crisis in 2015.

Seehofer, a former leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) which is facing a hard regional election in October, wants to show he is toughening up the rules in his 63-point master plan.

Three years after the migration crisis erupted, the inflow has slowed dramatically but the coalition is still bickering over what would be a sustainable solution.

Merkel's comments came amid the escalating fallout from a contentious meeting between Trump and other world leaders at the recently concluded Group of Seven (G7) Summit in Canada. Turning back migrants at the border, she said this week, would only add pressure to neighboring countries such as Italy and Greece.

Merkel was re-elected for a fourth term in September but saw her ruling majority depleted by voter unease over the influx of more than one million migrants in 2015-16.

It too rejects stepping up German border controls of asylum seekers, which it says goes against the spirit of the Schengen passport-free zone.

German and French ministers are set to meet later this month to find common ground on European Union reform, ahead of a meeting of all European Union leaders on June 28-29.