European Union members plotted secretly in March to have African dictators, including accused war criminal and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, help stem the tide of refugees pouring into Europe, according to an explosive report in the German publication Der Spiegel.

An “action plan” discussed at the March 23 meeting led by Germany, included earmarking $45 million to al-Bashir’s Sudan and seven other African countries to intercept and take in refugees bound for the west, according to the report.

“Under no circumstances” was the public to learn of the talks, ambassadors of the 28 European Union member states agreed.  A staff member of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini warned that Europe’s reputation could be in jeopardy if word of the talks leaked, according to the report.

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