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BERLIN, July 3, 2018 (News Wires) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Social Democrats (SPD) coalition partners said on Tuesday they need to scrutinise a compromise on migrant policy she struck with her Bavarian allies to save her three-month old government before they agree to it.

A deal between Merkel's own Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) partners, envisages special transit zones at the German border with Austria where migrants already registered in other EU countries will be held.

They would then be sent back - although Austria has yet to agree to this, and Vienna signaled possible problems ahead by saying it would have to protect its southern borders with Italy and Slovenia if the German deal went into effect.

The new policy which tightens restrictions on migrants is a compromise that allowed Merkel and CSU head Horst Seehofer to back down from their confrontation over immigration that had threatened to break up their coalition.

Merkel said the deal showed Germany was not simply taking unilateral action but working with its European partners.

Seehofer, who is also interior minister and wanted tighter national border controls, caused chaos in the last few days, threatening to resign and then putting that on ice. Now he has said he will remain in his cabinet post.

The row underlined the deep divisions within Europe on how to deal with the migrants who have arrived in the last three years.

Seehofer said he would travel to Vienna soon and had already spoken to Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz by phone. "I have the impression that he is interested in a sensible solution," he said before a party meeting.

Before Merkel can go ahead, the SPD, who share power in the three-way coalition, also has to agree. The party's lawmakers are discussing it on Tuesday. Previously, the SPD had rejected such centres.

Some senior SPD figures were scathing about the deal.

"After weeks of fighting, with ultimatums, threats, swearing, resignations, withdrawal of resignations, the conservatives have at last laid an egg," one of the SPD deputy leaders, Ralf Stegner, tweeted.

"What will hatch from it? What is to be made of it? We will look at it closely," he added.

The head of the SPD's Jusos youth wing, Kevin Kuehnert, told rbb radio the SPD has spoken out against closed institutions for asylum seekers "and therefore I do not expect us to simply nod this through".

Ultimately, however, it seems unlikely that the SPD will torpedo the deal and trigger another political crisis.

CDU General-Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told German television she believed the SPD would back the deal.

"The SPD has said they want to speed up the process," she said. "I think this is a realistic solution that the Social Democrats can agree to," she said.

Paris, June 26, 2018 (News Wires) - France said on Tuesday that "a European solution seems to be emerging" for the humanitarian ship Lifeline, stranded at sea with 234 migrants on board, and it may be allowed to dock in Malta.

"As I speak, a European solution seems to be emerging: (it) would be a docking in Malta," French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told RTL radio.

The German NGO ship Lifeline rescued the migrants, including children and pregnant women, on Thursday but the vessel has been stranded in the Mediterranean after Malta and Italy refused to accept it.

The decision by the two countries to stop allowing migrant rescue vessels to dock has plunged Europe into a political crisis over how to collectively handle the hundreds of people fleeing war and misery in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Griveaux insisted there was no migrant "crisis" but urged leaders "to respond quickly to an urgent situation".

"France is ready to send a team on site to process (asylum) requests on a case-by-case basis," as it did for migrants aboard the Aquarius vessel once it docked in Spain after also being refused by Italy and Malta.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels this week for a summit where the migrant issue will be high on the agenda.

Italy and Malta say they are unfairly bearing the brunt of the new arrivals, while other European countries are urging more forceful policies to block their entry.

France has proposed setting up EU asylum processing centres in Africa aimed at discouraging people to attempt dangerous trips across the Mediterranean.

BERLIN, June 24, 2018 (News Wires) - German charity Mission Lifeline, whose rescue ship with almost 240 African migrants aboard has been denied entry by Italy, on Sunday fired back at Rome's far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini.

After Salvini wrote on Facebook about the non-government organisation's cargo of "human flesh", the NGO responded: "Dear Matteo Salvini, we have no meat on board, but humans."

"We cordially invite you to convince yourself that it is people we have saved from drowning. Come here, you are welcome!" said the charity's reply.

The Lifeline rescue vessel on Sunday remained in limbo west of Malta, with 239 people aboard, including 14 women and four infants, who were rescued near the Libyan coast, said the group.

They had received food and water from Malta, and medical supplies and blankets provided by two other German rescue ships, the Sea-Eye and Sea-Watch, said Mission Lifeline spokesman Axel Steier.

Lifeline said it was also hoping to rendezvous in the waters off Malta with Danish container ship Alexander Maersk, which had rescued 113 migrants off southern Italy.

The larger cargo ship could provide some protection to the smaller Lifeline in case of bad weather, while the rescue ship could help with its on-board medical facilities, he said.

Salvini two weeks ago turned back another rescue vessel, the Aquarius of French group SOS Mediterranee, which eventually docked in Spain.

The move sparked protests from France and other EU countries and deepened ruptures in the bloc on the flashpoint issue of immigration.

As 16 EU countries were to meet on the issue at a mini-summit in Brussels on Sunday, the German charity expressed hope other European countries may help out.

Steier hoped for "positive signals" from the meeting and said "our hope is that (EU) states offer to take in the people, in solidarity with the concerns of Italy".

CAIRO, April 20, 2018 (MENA) - There is an ambitious national plan to restructure the Egyptian electricity system, following a shortage period that was witnessed in the past, Presidency Spokesman Bassam Radi said on Friday.

In statements to CBC Extra News channel, the spokesman said that a well-planned strategy has been outlined to upgrade the electricity system, pointing out that three new German power plants will be inaugurated in May, June and July. The plants will provide great energy for the coming generations.

The power projects with neighboring countries including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Jordan and Libya have fruitful outcome alongside those in the energy domain, the spokesman noted, citing the good management of energy through exchanging it among the countries participating in the project as one of the expected positive result.

Radi underlined that Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a global and internationally recognized body, saying that its role comes as part of the overall strategy for combating extremist ideology.
President Sisi’s Thursday meeting with the members of the board of trustees of Bibliotheca Alexandrina comes within the framework of the annual periodical meeting of its board of trustees, he added.

BERLIN, April 18, 2018 (AP) — A giraffe in a German zoo has been outfitted with a transmitter to help scientists learn more about his habits to better protect the species in the wild.

The Berlin zoo said Wednesday that handlers trained giraffe Max for 10 months until they got him used to wearing the transmitter on his head, which makes him look a bit like a jogger wearing a headlamp for an evening run.

Spokesman Florian Sicks said the data received on Max’s feeding, roaming and dozing habits will help zoologists understand giraffes’ needs in their natural habit in Africa.

The zoo said in a statement that the number of giraffes has fallen by almost 40 per cent in the past three decades. Understanding their habits will make it easier to create sanctuary areas for them.


BERLIN, April 16, 2018 (Reuters) - German Europe Minister Michael Roth called for the European Union to adopt a united front against Russia with the aim of reducing tensions, warning that "anti-Russian reflexes" were as dangerous as naivete about Russia's "nationalist" course.

Roth's intervention, in an article for Die Welt newspaper, came amid signs that under conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democrat (SPD) Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Germany's position toward Russia is hardening, especially since a poison attack in Britain, widely blamed on Russia.

Roth, in remarks that seemed designed to reflect the more pro-Russian views of the SPD's members, said Europe's sanctions against Russia should be maintained, but with the aim of bringing Russia to the negotiating table.

"Sanctions aren't a goal in themselves," he wrote. "They should encourage people back to the negotiating table to work on reasonable solutions ... Anti-Russian reflexes are just as dangerous as naively relativising the nationalist-tinged policies of the Russian leadership."

 

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