Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks Thursday with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on issues related to illegal immigrants arriving to her country. Merkel is scheduled for a two-day trip that will also include Tunisia.
After meeting Sisi, Merkel is scheduled to meet Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric.
Merkel, who faces elections in September, has been under intense pressure to reduce the number of asylum seekers coming to Germany, which has taken in over one million migrants since 2015.
“There are routes for illegal immigration from Libya to Germany. We have a lot of mutual concern and interest in putting an end to this,” she said at a press conference with Sisi.
“The question now is how to stop human trafficking and prevent the opening of a new route for escaping to Europe through Egypt,” she said.
She added that Germany would continue providing technical support for Egypt to monitor its long border with Libya.
Merkel has urged the North African states to step up border controls and speed up repatriations of migrants whose asylum applications are rejected.
She will depart to Tunisia on Friday to meet Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi.
Merkel is joined by a business delegation that could sweeten the diplomacy with investments badly needed by both countries, which are grappling with sluggish economies, terrorist attacks and high unemployment, especially among youths.