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The Latest: Merkel aide downplays flap over Syrian asylum gambit, says no change to procedures

  • Two men embrace after they had disembarked a small boat at a beach on the island of Lesbos, Greece, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Well over half a million people have reached the Greek islands so far this year, a record number of arrivals, and the journey has proved fatal for hundreds. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

    Two men embrace after they had disembarked a small boat at a beach on the island of Lesbos, Greece, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Well over half a million people have reached the Greek islands so far this year, a record number of arrivals, and the journey has proved fatal for hundreds. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)  (The Associated Press)

  • A man helps a youth as they disembark a small boat near a beach on the island of Lesbos, Greece, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Well over half a million people have reached the Greek islands so far this year, a record number of arrivals, and the journey has proved fatal for some hundreds. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

    A man helps a youth as they disembark a small boat near a beach on the island of Lesbos, Greece, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Well over half a million people have reached the Greek islands so far this year, a record number of arrivals, and the journey has proved fatal for some hundreds. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)  (The Associated Press)

  • A woman gestures as she had just disembarked a small boat at a beach on the island of Lesbos, Greece, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Well over half a million people have reached the Greek islands so far this year, a record number of arrivals, and the journey has proved fatal for some hundreds. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

    A woman gestures as she had just disembarked a small boat at a beach on the island of Lesbos, Greece, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Well over half a million people have reached the Greek islands so far this year, a record number of arrivals, and the journey has proved fatal for some hundreds. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)  (The Associated Press)

The latest news as tens of thousands of people fleeing war or poverty make their way across Europe. All times local.

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.