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Germany, Italy, France to meet with Turkey on migrants

European Union and Turkish flags fly outside a hotel in Istanbul

The leaders of Germany, France and Italy will discuss the migrant crisis with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a meeting of the G20 countries in China next week, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

Turkey on Thursday said it would not implement an agreement with the European Union meant to stem the flow of illegal migrants and refugees if it does not get the visa-free travel to Europe for Turks that it has been promised.

European officials, including Merkel, insist that Turkey can only get visa-free travel privileges if it fulfills all 72 conditions set as part of that agreement.

Merkel told German broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) it was still unclear if she would hold a separate meeting with Erdogan amid strains between the two Nato allies.

Turkey, angered by a parliamentary resolution branding a 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a genocide, has blocked German lawmakers from visiting 250 German soldiers at Incirlik Air Base, where they are supporting the US-led fight against Islamic State.

Merkel has said Germany was in talks with Turkey to resolve the row and she expected German troops to be able to continue flying six Tornado reconnaissance planes from the NATO base.

“We’re all in agreement that lawmakers must be allowed to visit our soldiers,” Merkel said in the interview on Thursday. “I’m also trying to achieve progress through discussions.”

Leaders of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats in parliament are expected to agree on a foreign policy position paper on Friday that does not include a call to withdraw German troops from the base unless they are allowed to visit, as the left-leaning Social Democrats coalition partners have demanded.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a leader in the SPD, on Monday had told broadcaster ARD that parliament could not be expected to support a military mission when they could not inspect the conditions on the ground.

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