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Confusion over French PM Valls' comments on refugees

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that Europe cannot take any more refugees – or did he? After being quoted in a German newspaper, Valls' office issued an official quote diluting the comments first printed.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls caused a stir after reportedly telling journalists at a news conference on Tuesday: "We cannot take any more refugees in Europe. That's impossible."

Several publications, including the German daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung," repeated the French prime minister's quote as such, but his office later issued a slightly different quote, saying in a press release: "Europe has to say that it cannot take this many migrants anymore. That's impossible."

The confusion could, however, be down to something simply being lost in translation; the original French statement can be interpreted as "no more" or "not anymore," leaving ample space for ambiguity.

Securing Europe's borders

Regardless of either statement, Valls did not advocate setting any limits to migrant numbers. He did, however, stress that refugees from Syria should chiefly be dealt with in Syria's neighboring countries.

"Europe has to look for solutions, to take care of the refugees in countries that are neighboring Syria. Anything else would put Europe's capability of effectively securing its border at risk."

In the same discussion with journalists, Valls advocated strengthening Europe's border controls following the Paris attacks. The prime minister said that having control over Europe's outer borders was "essential" for the EU's future after it was revealed that at least two of the Paris assailants had gained access into the EU country by using fake Syrian passports.

France has long been asking for improved EU border controls. The November 13 attacks in Paris which killed 130 people only added renewed vigor to the demands. Pressure is also mounting on Germany to stop the flow of refugees into the European Union, as several French political parties have accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy of opening the European Union up to many dangers.

Valls said that Germany and Italy were also facing serious threats from the self-styled "Islamic State" (IS).

ss/msh (dpa, AFP)

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