Germany′s Merkel, Austria′s Kurz talk Afghanistan in Berlin | News | DW | 31.08.2021

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Germany's Merkel, Austria's Kurz talk Afghanistan in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is receiving her Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz in Berlin. It is one of her last official meetings as chancellor before she steps down from her role.

Chancellor Merkel and Chancellor Kurz in Berlin

The leaders gave a joint press conference before the talks

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz arrived in Berlin on Tuesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Kurz said on Twitter that he was "looking forward to talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, [German] Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as well as appointments with business representatives."

"Germany is not just our most important neighbor and trading partner, but also a very important EU partner," Kurz added.

Kurz reluctant on Afghan migrants

In a press conference held before the talks began, Merkel confirmed that a large number of Afghans who had worked with the Germans or for development organizations, who have the right to come to Germany, were still in the country.

"For us the focus at the moment is local staff and that's not 300 people, that's probably more like 10-40,000 people, and we will have to see how many of them want to leave the country and how many not," she said.

In turn, her Austrian colleague seemed reluctant when asked about the idea of having all EU countries sharing the burden of Afghan refugees.

Kurz said Austria had already taken in a "bigger than proportionate share" of migrants since 2015.

Merkel takes a swipe at potential successor

Merkel also used the opportunity to criticize the Social Democrat chancellor candidate, and current finance minister in the coalition government, Olaf Scholz.

"With me as chancellor there would never be a coalition in which the (far-left) Linke is involved, and whether this stance is shared by Olaf Scholz or not remains open," Merkel said.

"In this context, there is simply a huge difference for the future of Germany between me and him," she added.

What is on the agenda for the two chancellors?

The two leaders were set to discuss bilateral and European topics, including the current situation in Afghanistan.

Kurz's conservative government has rejected the idea of accepting Afghan refugees into Austria following the Taliban's victory.

Instead, Austria's Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said that Vienna's highest priority was "to talk with Afghanistan's neighbors to ensure protection and aid in the region."

Watch video 00:33

Merkel: 'We want to be united as we carry out the rest of our actions in Afghanistan'

ab/dj (AFP, Reuters, dpa)