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Merkel looks to Turkey for help to deal with migrant crisis

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her colleagues are meeting their Turkish counterparts to press for more action to reduce the number of migrants arriving in Europe. Turkey has said it is seeking solidarity.

With Merkel facing increasing domestic pressure over the migrant crisis, the chancellor was expected to seek further cooperation with Ankara during Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's visit on Friday.

In a visit to Turkey a day earlier, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that the refugee influx would feature in the Berlin talks.

Von der Leyen is among the ministers scheduled to take part in the intergovernmental conference, along with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, and Development Minister Gerd Müller. Each minister's counterpart from Ankara was also due to attend.

EU leaders have already pledged 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) to Turkey to help care for Syrian refugees, as a measure aimed at reducing the numbers of refugees leaving Turkey and heading for Europe. Senior EU officials have said this funding has been blocked by Italy.

Watch video 02:56

Political correspondent Naomi Conrad from Berlin

'Problem is not financial assistance'

However, while Davutoglu on Thursday urged "concrete steps" from the European Union to help Turkey deal with the refugee crisis, he said he would not even ask Merkel about the money that had been pledged.

"We are not asking (for) money; we are not negotiating money... For us, it's a humanitarian duty, therefore the problem is not financial assistance," Davutoglu said in comments reported by the AFP news agency.

"We are asking solidarity. We are asking to have a sense of common destiny. We will be discussing these with my dear colleague Merkel, and we hope the next steps will be concrete steps to address this issue," he added.

Watch video 01:33

One million migrants entered Europe in 2015

Tricky topics on the agenda

Coming a week after an attack in Istanbul that claimed the lives of 10 Germans, the talks are also expected to address security issues, and Turkey's commitment to the fight against "Islamic State."

Merkel has also said she will use the meeting to raise thorny issues such as media freedom in Turkey and the situation of the Kurds. Ankara is engaged in an all-out offensive against the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), with army operations backed by curfews in several southeastern urban centers. Kurdish activists say dozens of civilians have died in the crackdown as a result of excessive force being used.

rc/bw (AFP, dpa)

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