Merkel arrives in Lebanon for official visit

Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Bavarian allies warned the German leader Wednesday against offering financial concessions to other European countries to resolve a conflict over migration that has shaken her government.

She arrived later in the Lebanese capital Beirut, another major Middle Eastern refugee host country, where she was expected to meet officials, businessmen and representatives of United Nations organizations during a two-day visit.

European Union budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger, a member of Merkel's party, told Friday's Handelsblatt newspaper that his colleagues in Brussels have often praised Germany for its stability "but now the CSU is damaging Germany's ability to act in the European Union".

More than 640,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since 2014, many of whom made their way northward to join family or to countries perceived as providing more assistance until Italy's neighbours enacted stricter border controls.

Macron and Sanchez both stressed the need for a humanitarian but responsible approach to migration.

Rome's government said the Lifeline disobeyed Italian coast guard orders to let the Libyan coast guard to rescue the migrants.

"They risk the lives of the migrants on the dinghy, refuse to listen to Italian and Libyan authorities and intervene so they can load this valuable cargo of humans - of human flesh - on board", Salvini said.

"We want more sovereignty and unity", Macron said.

Macron said he and Merkel agreed to push forward the plan to make the budget operational by 2021. "We have lots more to do", she said.

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The French president, speaking after talks in Paris with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, said member states that benefit from European Union cooperation but "claim national self-interest when it comes to the issue of migrants" should have sanctions imposed on them.

He said: "I am for myself in favour of mechanisms that indeed take this into account".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel landed in Lebanon on Thursday night after concluding an official visit to Jordan where she promised a loan worth 100 million US dollars.

Merkel said reforms should be balanced and "not hit the wrong people".

Lebanese officials say the country's economy is collapsing and are urging Syrians to return home to areas that have relatively stabilized.

US President Donald Trump, who has taken a "zero tolerance" line on immigrants, this week weighed in on the European debate with angry tweets, charging Monday that due to the migrant influx, "the people of Germany are turning against their leadership".

Spanish authorities said they had rescued almost 600 migrants trying to make the perilous crossing from Africa, while off the coast of Libya coastguards recovered bodies of five migrants and picked up 210 survivors, the coastguard said.

Fine weather in the Mediterranean, coupled with Spain's new softer stance on migration, has seen an uptick in the number of people attempting to cross into Europe from North Africa.

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