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Merkel: Germany should play bigger role on world stage

The German chancellor has refused to back down under mounting pressure to reverse course on the refugee crisis. Campaigning on behalf of her party, she said it's time for Germany to broaden its international role.

Germany should play a bigger role in world affairs, Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Wednesday. On the campaign trail for her Christian Democrats (CDU) party ahead of regional elections next week, Merkel refused pressure to take a more individual, domestic approach to Europe's migrant crisis.

The country should not just spread its influence via exports, the chancellor argued. "Rather, we will have to take on more responsibility in an open world for what happens outside our European borders," she said at a CDU rally in the town of Wittlich in Rhineland-Palatinate, one of three states about to hold parliamentary ballots.

"That means more development aid, that means more common standards on climate protection, that means fair trade and a lot more than one perhaps feels in a closed society," Merkel added.

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Merkel stands firm

The German leader has been under increasing scrutiny, mostly from within her own borders, with regard to stemming the tide of migrants after 1.1 million asylum seekers entered Germany in 2015. While her government has moved to have some countries, such as Tunisia and Morocco, declared safe countries of origin and has worked to speed up deportation proceedings for rejected asylum requests, many still see her policy as falling short.

One of her most outspoken critics has been Horst Seehofer, leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party the CSU.

Speaking at a separate rally in Halle in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, which will also have elections next week, Seehofer said that "if the international measures do not come in time or are not effective enough, we will not be able to avoid national measures," a clear dig at the chancellor's policies.

Instead of bowing to the tension, Merkel has continued to favor a solution at the European level, even as her center-right party loses ground to the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in some areas, including Saxony-Anhalt. A defeat for the CDU at the regional polls could force Merkel to reverse her course if she hopes to keep her party in the majority in the 2017 general election.

es/bw (Reuters, dpa)

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