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Italian pm seeks migrant summit
19 Apr 2015 23:11
Italy has called for an emergency summit of European Union leaders following the latest migrant boat tragedy in the Mediterranean.
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Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Rome would be seeking the extraordinary meeting after up to 700 people were feared to have drowned when a boat carrying them towards Italy capsized off Libya.
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Mr Renzi said: "We are working to ensure this meeting can be held by the end of the week, it has to be a priority."
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He described the people smuggling behind the migrant crisis as "scourge" that Europe had to address.
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The Italian initiative came as the EU came under fire over what NGOs termed a tragedy that may have been avoided if Italy had maintained its large-scale search-and-rescue operation off its southern shores.
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The Mare Nostrum mission was suspended at the end of last year after Italy's EU partners refused to help with the ongoing cost of running it.
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There was a bitter row over whether the life-saving operation was unintentionally encouraging migrants and asylum-seekers to attempt the perilous crossing from north Africa to Europe.
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