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Merkel critical of US immigration ban, spokesman tells Spiegel

Michele Tantussi | Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticized a new U.S. travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, the online site of German news magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday.

"She is convinced that even the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion," Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told the magazine.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday ordered a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily banned travelers from Syria and six other predominantly-Muslim countries.

In a follow-up statement, the German government said it regrets the U.S. travel ban and will review the consequences for German citizens with dual nationalities.

"The chancellor regrets the U.S. entry ban against refugees and citizens from several countries," Steffen Seibert said, adding that Merkel had expressed her concerns to U.S. President Donald Trump during a telephone call on Saturday.

She also reminded him that the Geneva Conventions require the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds, Seibert said.

He said the German government would now review the consequences of the ban for German citizens with dual nationalities and would "represent their interests, if needed, vis a vis our U.S. partners."

France's foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, also criticized the U.S.'s travel ban, saying Trump's order "can only worry us." "We have signed international obligations, so welcoming refugees fleeing war and oppression forms part of our duties," Ayrault said.

Ayrault, along with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said they would like to meet with State Secretary nominee Rex Tillerson once he is officially appointed. "There are many other issues that worry us," said Ayrault.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.