Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said he would not stop migrants trying to cross Turkey's border into Greece despite EU pressure to do so, as he announced a summit next week in Istanbul with European leaders to seek a solution to the crisis.

Tens of thousands of migrants have been trying to get into Greece, a European Union member state, since Turkey said last month it would no longer keep them on its territory as part of a 2016 deal with Brussels in return for EU aid for the refugees.

Greece has sent troops to the border area and used tear gas and water cannon against the migrants, but the pressure has continued.

Greece said it stopped 963 illegal migrants in the 24 hours to 6am this morning and arrested 52.

Mr Erdogan, speaking to reporters on his plane back to Turkey after discussing the migrant crisis yesterday in Brussels with top EU officials, repeated his call on Greece to change tack.

"We are not thinking of closing these gates. Our proposal to Greece is to open the gates. These people won't stay in Greece. Let them cross from Greece into other European countries," he said, calling for a "just, humane sharing" of the burden.

His comments will revive memories of the 2015-16 migrant crisis, when more than one million people, mostly fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Asia, reached the EU via Turkey and Greece, boosting support for far-right parties.


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Greek military vehicles and soldiers on foot continued to patrol along the wire and steel fence that separates the Kastanies crossing from Turkey's border post at Pazarkule.

Greek officials said the 52 migrants arrested from Monday to Tuesday included Syrians, Afghans and Iranians.

Turkey says Greece's stance violates the migrants' human rights. It has also accused Greek forces of shooting dead four migrants on the border, a claim Greece strongly denies.

Turkey's migration authority said it had filed two applications to the European Court of Human Rights regarding one migrant it says was killed by Greek forces and a family it said was pushed back from the border.

More lawsuits are being prepared on behalf of migrants whose rights have been violated, it said.

Mr Erdogan said he would convene a summit in Istanbul on 17 March on the migrant issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel ,French President Emmanuel Macron and possibly British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He said he had stressed in the Brussels talks the need to update both the 2016 migration deal between Ankara and the EU and Turkey's customs union with the bloc, and also to revive Turkey's stalled EU accession process.

"The EU leaders accepted that Turkey had fulfilled its responsibilities under the March 18 (2016) agreement and that the EU had acted slowly," Mr Erdogan said, adding that technical and political teams would now produce a road map.