Merkel on tightrope over disputed migrant policy

A falling out with her coalition partners could strip Merkel's government of its majority in parliament

Merkel was re-elected for a fourth term in September but saw her ruling majority depleted by voter unease over the influx of more than one million migrants in 2015-16.

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 European Union country.

Merkel and fellow leaders are still struggling to adapt to an unpredictable USA president who seems to delight in challenging allies on issues from security to exports while lauding traditional rivals and enemies in Russian Federation and North Korea.

Instead of attending the summit, Seehofer said he would be meeting Austria's chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, who is also pushing for more stringent immigration rules across the European Union but is not fully behind Seehofer's plan to return migrants to the country in which they were first registered.

United States President Donald Trump said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were waiting for a final draft of a joint statement by G-7 leaders when an iconic photograph was taken over the weekend showing the two leaders in what appeared to be a confrontation.

The alleged rape and killing of a 14-year-old German girl by an Iraqi man, who was extradited from Iraq on Saturday, has re-ignited the debate on migrants and followed a scandal at a regional office which wrongly granted asylum applications.

Merkel objects to turning away asylum seekers at the border, fearing it could lead other countries to do the same.

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Mr Seehofer cancelled plans to present his "masterplan" on immigration on Monday claiming certain points still needed to be agreed. She also praised Trudeau by saying that she is glad that he is "on the EU's side." .

"I accepted that. And we will push ahead with it", Seehofer told a news conference in Berlin.

He was due to announce a new, extensive migrant plan Tuesday.

"The withdrawal by tweet is, of course, sobering and a bit depressing", she said.

However, some other senior party members made clear they backed Seehofer. Bickering over anemic German spending on defense as well as the US withdrawal from the Paris global climate treaty and the Iran nuclear accord has led Merkel to conclude the alliance between the two countries is no longer reliable.

The anti-immigration AfD said Seehofer must prevail. The Social Democrats, the junior partner in Merkel's grand coalition, have largely left the two conservative parties to fight it out between themselves.

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