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Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Latest: Merkel aide downplays Syria asylum flap

BERLIN (AP) — The latest news as tens of thousands of people fleeing war or poverty make their way across Europe. All times local. 15:55 p.m. Authorities say the body of a young man has been found on a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos. Greece's coast guard says the man is believed to be in his early 20s but has not been identified yet. A coast guard spokeswoman said there was no reported incident at sea Saturday and it wasn't clear when the man drowned. Well over half a million migrants have crossed the Aegean Sea to the Greek islands from Turkey so far this year — a record number of arrivals — and the journey has proved fatal for hundreds. The vast majority don't want to stay, and head north through the Balkans to other, more prosperous European Union countries. ___ 12:15 p.m. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff is downplaying a short-lived initiative by the interior minister to give many Syrians restricted asylum, insisting that the matter is settled and procedures remain unchanged. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere appeared to catch Merkel's governing coalition by surprise when he said Friday that many Syrians should get "subsidiary protection," which comes with only a one-year renewable residence permit and wouldn't allow them to bring relatives to Germany for two years. Amid criticism, he shelved the idea hours later. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has said the idea apparently was produced in the Interior Ministry without consultation. Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, made clear in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio broadcast Sunday that he hadn't been aware that the initiative had been launched. Join the conversation about this story »