Merkel, Key discuss refugee crisis in Berlin


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on New Zealand to do more to help Syrian refugees, as she met Prime Minister John Key in Berlin.

Ms Merkel has taken a leadership role on the refugee crisis and Mr Key says he'll rise to the challenge of offering more aid.

For today the New Zealand flag flies alongside the German one at the Reichstag in Berlin. The friendly gesture from one of the world's greatest powers was noted by the Prime Minister.

"In terms of Syria and the refugee crisis, we acknowledge the leadership of the Chancellor and also the significance of the issue," Mr Key says.

"New Zealand has agreed to take emergency intake of Syrian refugees. You'll appreciate that's relatively small – it's 750 – but we're a long way from the issue."

But Mr Key wasn't getting off that lightly. Ms Merkel has wielded her influence by forming a breakaway coalition of European leaders who are co-operating with her welcoming stance on Syrian refugees.

And she's given New Zealand an in to find favour through funding facilities and education in refugee camps.

"We have a lack of funds of almost 50 percent, so there will be a lot of people fleeing again, and if New Zealand wishes to participate in this particular part of the refugee crisis I think that would be a most important and most welcome contribution," Ms Merkel says.

Mr Key knows the other leaders in Germany's inner circle have had to put their money where their mouths are.

"The amount of money they're having to put in is very significant," Mr Key says.

"Just to give you an idea – the refugees that are coming to Germany are estimated to cost €8 billion this year and that number is rising rapidly. They're also having to put a lot more money into the camps around the rest of Europe, so there's going to have to be a lot more demand of a lot more resources from New Zealand and I suspect we will rise to the challenge and put in more money."

When it comes to the number of Syrian refugees, both countries have pledged to accept there is no comparison of either as a whole, or if you calculate it per capita.

Germany is estimated to have taken in up to 1 million refugees this year while New Zealand will accept 750 spread over two-and-a-half years.

The demand for asylum will only rise as combat in Syria intensifies. Ms Merkel is confident the Parliament is on the verge of committing 1200 soldiers, a frigate and aircraft.

And the UK is on the eve of a vote to declare war on Syria by launching airstrikes.

"This has been a very deliberate and proper process," British Prime Minister David Cameron says.

"[It involves] Cabinet, legal advice, 10-and-a-half hours debate tomorrow. We should think of our brave armed forces for the risks they take on our behalf."

Mr Key says the New Zealand troops already committed to Iraq in a training capacity is risk enough for New Zealand, and that a step up in action by Germany and Britain won't increase pressure to add to that.

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