FILE - In this Wednesday, March 21, 2018 file photo, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, right, talk during a meeting of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

The Latest: Seehofer wants quick action on migrants

June 18, 2018 - 8:52 am

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on Germany and the debate over migration (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

Germany's interior minister says he wants to be able to start turning migrants back at the border quickly if Chancellor Angela Merkel's talks with other European Union countries fail to produce results this month.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer averted an immediate collision with Merkel on Monday by giving her two weeks to talk with Germany's EU partners. She has vehemently opposed his calls for Germany to unilaterally turn back people previously registered as asylum-seekers in other EU countries.

Merkel says she will report back on July 1. Seehofer said he'd be glad to see a European agreement, but "we want this national solution unless a European solution comes together."

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2:25 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will hold talks with other European countries on migration issues and report back to her party on July 1.

Merkel stressed Monday that she doesn't want to see Germany unilaterally turn back migrants at its borders, as Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has been advocating.

Seehofer's Christian Social Union party had raised the prospect of the minister taking such action in defiance of the chancellor, which has escalated the issue into a threat to her government. On Monday, the CSU agreed to give Merkel two weeks to seek agreements with European partners.

Merkel said she will hold talks at and around an upcoming EU summit and report back to her own conservative party July 1. She said it will then have to consider what happens next.

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1:30 p.m.

German news agency dpa is reporting that Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has made clear to his party that he wants to give Chancellor Angela Merkel until the end of June to find a European solution to migration issues.

The agency, which cited unnamed participants at an ongoing meeting in Munich of the leadership of Seehofer's Christian Social Union party, said that if no agreements with other European Union partners are reached by then, the idea would be to start turning back some migrants at Germany's border.

Seehofer's demand to turn back migrants has set off a dispute with Merkel, who is against Germany taking unilateral action. She has insisted that any response must be coordinated with other EU nations.

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1:25 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to discuss the issue of migration with Italy's new premier on his first official trip to Berlin.

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that "various aspects of migration policy will be discussed" at the bilateral talks with Giuseppe Conte late Monday.

Seibert declined to elaborate ahead of the meeting, which will be preceded by statements from the leaders.

Merkel is under strong pressure from her conservative allies to take a harder line on migration.

While she has rejected unilateral action to turn back some migrants at the German border, Merkel has raised the possibility of forging agreements between two or more countries if an EU-wide asylum deal can't be reached.

Seibert said such agreements could involve countries that are most strongly affected by migrant movements.

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11:40 a.m.

German news agency dpa reports that Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has told his party he wants to proceed step-by-step in his plan to turn back some migrants at the country's borders — hinting at a compromise in a dispute with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Seehofer has been calling for Germany to turn back at its border migrants previously registered as asylum-seekers in other European countries. Merkel opposes unilateral action and wants time to discuss the issue with other European Union countries.

Citing unidentified participants, dpa reported that Seehofer told a leadership meeting of his Christian Social Union party on Monday in Munich that he wants to start by turning back people against whom authorities have issued a formal entry ban.

He says he wants to make preparations to turn back others, which would go into effect if no European agreements are reached.

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9:10 a.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Bavarian allies were expected Monday to decide how far to push in a dispute with the German leader over migration, a conflict that has escalated into a threat to her government.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is calling for Germany to turn back at its border migrants previously registered as asylum-seekers in other European countries. Merkel opposes unilateral action, arguing that it would weaken the 28-nation European Union.

Seehofer heads the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, the sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union. The CSU is determined to show that it's tough on migration as it faces a challenging October state election in Bavaria, and argues that that is the best way to cut support for the far-right Alternative for Germany.

A CSU leadership meeting Monday in Munich is likely to authorize Seehofer to go ahead with his plan — but it's unclear at what point leaders want it to take effect. If Seehofer actually goes ahead and implements it unilaterally in defiance of Merkel, it could set off a chain of events that would bring down Germany's coalition government.

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