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The Odd Couple: Merkel, Tsipras Fate Tied to EU Refugee Deal

  • Shared German, Greek interest at EU summit in curbing influx
  • Both have `track record of pragmatism,' says Teneo's Nickel
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EU Leaders Tackle Refugee Crisis

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When Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras traveled to Tehran last month, he carried a joint message worked out with an unlikely ally: German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In meetings with Iranian leaders, Tsipras pressed for measures to encourage a million or more Afghan refugees currently in Iran to stay there, according to two officials familiar with the diplomacy. Both he and Merkel regard steps to control the influx of Afghans -- the second-biggest group entering Europe after Syrians -- as a key element of plans to tackle the refugee crisis that’s dividing Europe, the people said, asking not to be named because the discussions were private. Neither knows if the joint plea to Iran will yield results, they added.