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German minister says refugee deal reached with Italy

Reuters , Thursday 13 Sep 2018
Horst Seehofer
Leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Horst Seehofer at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party headquarters in Berlin, Germany, January 26, 2018. Seehofer was sworn in as Germany's new Interior Minister on March 14, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Thursday that Germany had reached a deal with Italy to return migrants who have already applied for asylum there and added he expected it to be signed soon.

That comes after the German government agreed in August with both Greece and Spain to send migrants back to those countries within 48 hours if they have already applied for asylum there.

"I have just heard that the deal with Italy has also been agreed," Seehofer told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

“We just need the two signatures from the Italian colleague and me," Seehofer said, adding he expected that to take a few more days.

The deals are part of a compromise between Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and Seehofer's Bavarian Christian Social Union that appears to resolve a dispute over returning migrants that nearly split them and brought down the government.

More than 1.6 million migrants have arrived in Germany since mid-2014, provoking tensions and propelling the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) into the national parliament.

Merkel has repeatedly defended her 2015 decision to admit hundreds of thousands of migrants as a humanitarian necessity, but has since vowed to prevent a re-run of such an influx.

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