Germany nears accord with Namibia on colonial-era killings

BERLIN (AP) — Germany said Monday it is close to an agreement with Namibia on the killings of tens of thousands of people when Germany was the southern African country’s colonial ruler over a century ago.

Germany opened talks with the Namibian government in 2015 on a “future-oriented reappraisal of German colonial rule.” It has signaled its readiness to make compensation payments.

“We are in the home stretch on this issue,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse told reporters in Berlin.

Sasse said another round of talks was held in Berlin last week and negotiations have been “very constructive” recently, but said she couldn’t give further details because both sides have agreed to maintain confidentiality until the process is complete.

Historians say German Gen. Lothar von Trotha, who was sent to what was then German South West Africa to put down an uprising by the Hereros in 1904, instructed his troops to wipe out the entire tribe. The order also affected smaller tribes.

Historians say that about 65,000 Herero people were killed and at least 10,000 Nama people.

In 2004, then-Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul traveled to Namibia and offered Germany’s first apology for the killings, which she said was “what today would be labeled as genocide.” Germany’s Foreign Ministry has described the killings as genocide in recent years.

Sasse said representatives of the Herero and Nama have been involved in the negotiations, though Germany’s direct dealings have been with the Namibian government.

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