Turnbull in Berlin talks multiculturalism, free trade agreement

The topics of border security and a potential free trade agreement with the European Union have been discussed during Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's visit to Germany.

Australia has made "significant progress" towards a free trade deal with the European Union in Malcolm Turnbull's meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The pair also committed to upping pressure on Russia and Iran to stop Syria attacking its own citizens.

Ms Merkel hosted Mr Turnbull in Berlin, after the prime minister gave a speech calling for Europe to lift its restrictions on Australian farming exports.

"Germany has always been in favour to meet Australia's wish for a free trade agreement and I think we've made significant progress on the road towards that," Ms Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Monday.

Ms Merkel said the leaders were talking through "practical proposals" to strengthen international trade and security.

Mr Turnbull said free trade was built on security, and he backed Germany's stance on the war in Syria.

"We agree with you wholeheartedly on the need for a political solution in Syria," he told reporters at a joint media conference.

"Russia and Iran must do more to bring to an end the horrific attacks by the Assad regime."

France and Germany have also been keeping up pressure on the United States not to pull out of a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear ambitions, and Mr Turnbull will meet with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday.

Mr Turnbull and Ms Merkel spoke about North Korea's nuclear program and the need for it to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Earlier, Mr Turnbull was asked at an event about Australia's multicultural society, which he said was successful because citizens had confidence that the government controlled who was migrating.

Ms Merkel threw open Germany's borders to one million refugees from Syria in 2015, sparking some criticism.

Mr Turnbull is due to speak to the European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday as he pushes for a free trade deal with Europe.

Border security 

Mr Turnbull told a German forum that strong border control is key to maintaining public confidence in immigration.

He was asked about Australia's approach to multiculturalism, after Germany threw open its borders in 2015 to accept more than one million Syrian refugees.

The Prime Minister said he was careful not to give advice to other countries, but Australia was the most successful multicultural country on earth.

"Migration programs and multicultural society needs to have a commitment and an understanding, and the trust of the people," Mr Turnbull told the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung on Monday.

"Being in control of your borders is absolutely critical.

"You have to be able to exert your sovereign right to control your own borders."

Mr Turnbull said Australia went to great lengths to ensure migrants were settled and the migration program was carefully managed.

More than a quarter of Australians were born overseas and half have at least one parent born internationally.

Published 24 April 2018 at 3:24am, updated 24 April 2018 at 8:11am