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Merkel Ready To Back Faster Turkish EU Bid In Return For Help On Migrants

German Chancellor Angela Mekel has offered Turkey support for faster progress on its bid to join the European Union in return for cooperation in stemming the flow of westbound migrants.

Speaking in Istanbul on October 18 at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Merkel offered Turkey visa concessions and financial aid.

In return, she said she expects Ankara to act more quickly in readmitting migrants deported from Germany.

“No country can shoulder the refugee burden alone,” Merkel said. She added that the burden had to be shared.

Merkel is facing pressure -- including from her own conservative allies -- to tighten Germany's border controls and turn away refugees. Germany is expecting 800,000 to 1 million new arrivals this year.

The EU's aid package includes at least 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) to help Turkey host the more than 2 million refugees currently there.

Amnesty International has criticized the plan, saying it does not take into account the difficulties migrants face in Turkey or the EU's obligation to offer them protection.

Davutoglu pressed for a "safe zone" to stop the flow of refugees.

The proposal has been long championed by Turkey but it has gained little international traction because it would require military action.

Merkel also discussed the refugee crisis and Turkey’s EU bid with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, and The New York Times