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German foreign minister casts doubt on Klöckner's refugee plan

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has expressed doubts over the feasibility of an alternate refugee plan proposed by Merkel ally Julia Klöckner. Klöckner has denied trying to undermine Merkel's policies.

On Monday Steinmeier dismissed the proposal put forward by Klöckner, one of the five deputy chairpersons in Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

"[The plan] recalls the proposal to implement a ceiling [for the number of refugees] in Austria," the foreign minister told German newspaper "Reutlinger General-Anzieger." He added that it seemed unlikely that the proposal would be a success.

Klöckner's "Plan A2"

calls for tighter border controls in order to stem the number of refugees entering Germany, including daily quotas of the number of people to be allowed in, as well as border centers designed to inspect incoming migrants.

Klöckner, the CDU's candidate for state premier in the Rhineland-Palatinate election in March, has said her proposal doesn't contradict Merkel's more liberal refugee policy, but rather supplements it.

"I support the policy of the chancellor expressly," Klöckner told another newspaper, the "Passauer Neue Presse," on Monday.

Julia Klöckner

Klöckner's "Plan A2" calls for tighter border controls in order to stem the number of refugees

Political maneuver?

Steinmeier, a member of the CDU's coalition partner the Social Democrats (SPD), said Klöckner's proposed changes were a political move meant to shore up support ahead of elections in Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemburg and Saxony-Anhalt in March.

"She's trying to revive the sagging campaign in Rheinland-Palatinate with old proposals," Steinmeier said. "We already discussed proposals concerning border centers months ago and rejected them."

Two-thirds of voters in Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as Baden-Württemburg and Saxony-Anhalt, are preoccupied with the ongoing refugee crisis, according to recent surveys.

Bavaria threatens legal action

Also on Monday, Bavaria's state government sent a letter to the federal government calling for Berlin to limit the number of refugees allowed to enter.

If Berlin were to reject the proposal outlined in the letter, Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU's sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), could take legal action against the federal government.

The development puts further pressure on Merkel, whose party has already made moves to speed up the deportation of certain refugees following a spate of sexual assaults committed by asylum seekers in Cologne on New Year's Eve.

blc/cmk (dpa, Reuters)

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