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German govt defends separate ministerial flights to US

BERLIN (AP) — The German government is defending a decision to have Chancellor Angela Merkel and her defense minister fly to the United States almost simultaneously on separate government planes, two days after Merkel's coalition presented a policy package aiming to combat climate change.

German newspapers on Monday mocked the back-to-back departures Sunday of Merkel to New York for a U.N. climate summit and Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to Washington for meetings with U.S. officials. Media reported that Kramp-Karrenbauer originally was supposed to fly out in Merkel's Airbus A340 and take a commercial flight home.

Merkel spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said the separate flights were down to "purely organizational" reasons, stemming from the fact Merkel and Kramp-Karrenbauer were heading to separate destinations with different delegations, and the government has offset emissions since 2014.

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