The Latest: Germany extends border controls for 3 months

AP News
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Posted: Feb 11, 2016 8:16 AM
The Latest: Germany extends border controls for 3 months

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the massive influx of migrants into Europe (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

Germany says it is extending border controls along its frontiers for a further three months due to continued high numbers of refugee arrivals.

The Interior Ministry said Thursday that the controls, first introduced Sept. 13, can't be lifted because a reduction in the flow of refugees "is currently not foreseeable."

Almost 1.1 million people entered Germany last year to apply for asylum. Most came through the country's southern border with Austria.

Germany previously last announced it was extending border controls on Nov. 13.

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12:55 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has confirmed the leaked minutes of a conversation between himself and top European Union officials last year in which he threatens to send buses full of migrants to Europe if a favorable deal on handling the crisis is not reached.

Erdogan said Thursday the minutes showed that he had defended the rights of Turkey and of the Syrians, adding it was not "a document of shame."

Erdogan appeared to renew that threat on Thursday, saying Turkey could stop turning back refugees at its European borders.

He said: "I am sorry but we can open the doors, and tell them 'have a good' journey.'"

The minutes of the meeting appeared on a Greek website earlier this week and were published by some opposition newspapers.

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12:15 p.m.

NATO's chief says the NATO Maritime Group is being ordered immediately into the Aegean Sea to help end human smuggling of migrants between Turkey and Greece.

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, said Thursday the warships, now under German command, are being tasked to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance to help end Europe's gravest migrant crisis since World War II.

He says U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO's supreme European commander, had ordered NATO Standing Maritime Group 2 deployed to the Aegean "without delay."

Stoltenberg says ships "will start to move now."

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11:50 a.m.

The German government has agreed to allow unaccompanied child refugees to bring over their families in certain hardship cases.

The Cabinet-level agreement Thursday ends a spat between Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and the center-left Social Democrats that had held up a reform of asylum rules in Germany.

The deal means a halt to all family reunification except when "urgent humanitarian reasons" justify that parents of minors who have applied for asylum in Germany receive protection too.

The government has rushed to introduce a string of measures to slow the influx of refugees to Germany after almost 1.1 million people applied for asylum in the country last year.

The campaign group Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk criticized the agreement, saying it breaches Germany's obligations under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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11:10 a.m.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says NATO military authorities have been ordered to draw up plans for how the alliance could help shut down illegal migration and people smuggling across the Aegean Sea.

Carter made the announcement at a Thursday press conference after three NATO allies —Turkey, Germany and Greece— requested alliance participation in an international effort to help end Europe's gravest migration crisis since World War II.

The three countries made the request at a NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels. NATO ministers "tasked NATO military authorities to provide its advice for options for implementing it," said Carter.

Carter says those recommendations will be reviewed by NATO's Military Committee and submitted to the North Atlantic Council, NATO's chief decision-making body.