Free trade deal progress with Germany

Angus Livingston, AAP Senior Political Writer
AAP

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.