Italy signs immigration accord with Libyan opposition council

10:29, June 18, 2011      

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Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Friday signed an accord for cooperation in combating illegal immigration here with Mahmoud Jibril, interim leader of the Libyan opposition National Transitional Council (NTC).

According to the accord, the Italian government and the NTC will exchange information on illegal immigration flows as well as make mutual assistance and cooperation in fighting illegal immigration, including the repatriation of illegal immigrants.

Frattini appreciated the "seriousness" that the NTC has taken on the issue and said there was now "more transparent and coherent cooperation" between the two countries than in the past.

Last month, Italy recognized the NTC as the only representative of the Libyan people.

Jibril reaffirmed the commitment of the NTC to respect previous agreements signed by Libya and Italy. He said the illegal immigration issue would shape relations between Europe and Africa for the next 25 years.

"It is important to make a concerted effort to address these phenomena, and for us they can also be an economic opportunity," said Jibril after signing the accord.

Since January, about 30,000 immigrants, most of whom came from Tunisia, Libya and sub-Saharan Africa, have landed on the tiny island of Lampedusa, the southernmost point of Italy.

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