BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has made good progress towards an agreement with the Italian government to send migrants back to Italy if they have already applied for asylum there, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Monday.

Seehofer told German news agency dpa that he expected an agreement to be reached with Italy, following similar deals with Greece and Spain earlier this month.

"We are far along. There will be an agreement," Seehofer told dpa when asked about negotiations with Italy on the sidelines of an event in Freilassing, a town on the border between his own state of Bavaria and Austria.

Germany reached agreements with Greece and Spain that allow migrants to be sent back within 48 hours if they entered via Germany's border with Austria after applying for asylum in those countries.

The deals followed a dispute between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and their Bavarian allies over returning migrants that nearly brought down the German government.

More than 1.6 million migrants have arrived in Germany since mid-2014, provoking tensions and propelling the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) into the national parliament.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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