German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday she needs more time to negotiate a deal that would allow Germany to turn back asylum seekers who have already applied for asylum in Italy.

‘We are in the negotiation process,’ Merkel said on Monday in Berlin, one week after striking a similar deal with Madrid, which allows Germany to send back asylum seekers who have already lodged an application for asylum in Spain.

Merkel said she would be prepared to meet with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte personally to secure an agreement. ‘We're not quite that far along yet though,’ Merkel added.

Germany can now send so-called ‘secondary migrants’ back to Spain within 48 hours of their arrival after the agreement came into effect on Saturday. No one has so far been returned to Spain, a spokeswoman for the German Interior Ministry said on Monday.

Merkel is under pressure from her Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to secure bilateral agreements with key European partners. He wanted to see details on prospects for success for any deals by the end of July or early August.

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