Austria's chancellor Sebastian Kurz attends a news conference with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer in Berlin, Germany, June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joachim Herrmann
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The hardline interior ministers of Austria, Germany and Italy have formed an "axis of the willing" to combat illegal immigration, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Wednesday, escalating a Europe-wide row over the issue.The announcement by Kurz in Berlin after talks with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer marks a shot across the bow at Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is trying to pull together a deal for EU cooperation on placing asylum seekers. Merkel, widely seen as Europe's most prominent proponent of a generous refugee policy, has firmly rejected a plan put forward by Seehofer to turn back at German borders any asylum seeker already registered in another EU country.Despite the gulf between them, Seehofer insisted Wednesday that he aimed to strike a compromise with Merkel this week, although what shape that would take appeared completely unknown.Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of the SPD threw his weight behind Merkel in the migration spat Wednesday in a far-reaching speech on Europe.
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