France, Germany unite in face of Trump refugee ban

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French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault addresses delegates at the opening of the Mideast peace conference in Paris, January 15, 2017. Around 70 countries and international organisations are making a new push for a two-state solution in the Middle East at the conference in Paris. REUTERS/Thomas Samson/POOL - RTSVKTD

French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault addresses delegates at the opening of the Mideast peace conference in Paris, January 15, 2017. Around 70 countries and international organisations are making a new push for a two-state solution in the Middle East at the conference in Paris. Photo by Thomas Samson/POOL/Reuters

PARIS — France and Germany formed a united front Saturday in the face of President Donald Trump’s halt in the U.S. refugee program, with the German foreign minister noting that loving thy neighbor forms part of America’s Christian traditions.

After meeting Saturday, the foreign ministers of both nations, Jean-Marc Ayrault and Germany’s Sigmar Gabriel, said they want to meet with Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state who is still awaiting confirmation.

Ayrault said Trump’s order on Friday that bars all refugees from entering the United States for four months — and those from war-ravaged Syria indefinitely — “can only worry us.”

“We have signed international obligations, so welcoming refugees fleeing war and oppression forms part of our duties,” the French minister said.

“There are many other issues that worry us,” he added. “That is why Sigmar and I also discussed what we are going to do. When our colleague, Tillerson, is officially appointed, we will both contact him.”

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Gabriel — on his first trip abroad since his appointment Friday — said offering refuge to the persecuted and those fleeing death are western values that Europe and the United States share.

“Love thy neighbor is part of this tradition, the act of helping others,” he said. “This unites us, we Westerners. And I think that this remains a common foundation that we share with the United States, one we aim to promote.”

Trump declared the ban necessary to prevent “radical Islamic terrorists” from entering the United States.

The order immediately suspended a program that last year resettled to the U.S. roughly 85,000 people displaced by war, political oppression, hunger and religious prejudice.

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