Merkel, EU officials arrive for Turkey visit on migrant deal

AFP , Saturday 23 Apr 2016

File photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Photo: Reuters)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel touched down in Turkey Saturday for a visit along with top EU officials aimed at boosting a crucial deal Europe hopes will ease the worst migrant crisis since the Second World War.

She was joined by European Council head Donald Tusk and European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, who were greeted at the airport in south-east Turkey by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

The delegation was set to travel immediately to a refugee camp in Nizip, near the Syrian border, where they were expected to speak to some of the 5,000 or so people forced to flee their conflict-wracked country.

The trip comes a month after a March 20 deal between the EU and Ankara allowing for the deportation from Greece back to Turkey of migrants who do not qualify for asylum.

In exchange, the EU has promised Turkey some six billion euros ($6.8 billion) over the next four years aimed at helping Turkey better conditions for the 2.7 million refugees it is hosting, as well as a conditional offer of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.

The European leaders are expected to meet with refugees and visit a child protection centre before retiring for talks and winding up with a joint press conference with Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at 8:00 pm (1700 GMT).

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