US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday commended Angela Merkel and other European leaders for their role in seeking to control the migration crisis, even as the German chancellor campaigned for her pro-refugee policies.
"Chancellor Merkel and other leaders have demonstrated great courage in helping so many who need so much," Kerry said during comments at the Munich Security Conference.
"Across this continent, communities are taking in those fleeing the violence, saying 'no' to the voices of intolerance and racism within their societies," he added.
Merkel has come under fire in the EU and Germany - including from within the ranks of her own government coalition - for her decision to allow 1.1 million migrants into the nation last year.
Public opinion has also been turning against asylum seekers since the chancellor opened borders to refugees in September amid concerns about security and the enormous strain they place on the country's resources.
Support for Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CSU) allies has slipped as the refugee crisis gained momentum.
Saturday, Merkel continued to support her policy, kicking off a campaign ahead of elections in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt on March 13 that focused on her pro-refugee policies.
"Step for step we're moving along," Merkel said at a hotel in Magdeburg, Germany as part of the CDU's election campaign.