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Muscat joins EU counterparts on Libya in meeting called by UK

Cameron pushes EU to take migrant campaign into Libyan waters

Staff Reporter
18 March 2016, 3:34pm
L-R: Rajoy, Renzi, Merkel, Cameron, Hollande, Mogherini and Muscat
Malta joined the UK in talks on Libya in a meeting in Brussels during the EU summit.

Joseph Muscat joined a meeting hosted by David Cameron together with Germany’s Angela Merkel, French president Francois Hollande, Italy’s Matteo Renzi and Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy. Also in attendance was the EU’s high representative Federica Mogherini.

In a statement after the meeting, Muscat said he cautioned for the EU to be prepared to keep Libya on the road to governmental stability.

Cameron pressed his counterparts to extend their action against people-smugglers in the Mediterranean and send military ships into Libya’s territorial waters.

An EU operation has detained 53 smugglers and destroyed 90 boats since July.

Britain wants to help the new Libyan government take action closer to the coast and deter criminals who have kept their activities in inland waters to evade capture, Cameron’s office said.

The EU’s 28 member states are attempting to thrash out a deal on how best to deal with refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. Cameron, while refusing to take any additional people, says he wants to target the smugglers. He backed plans to return

refugees to Turkey and wants steps to be taken toward returning those who have come from Libya.

“What we’re talking about today is actually busting the business model of these people smugglers, and so therefore breaking the link between getting in a boat and getting settlement in Europe,” Cameron told reporters as he arrived at the summit.

“We support the idea of turning back people from the Greek islands back to Turkey; that is a good idea.”

Britain is willing to send Royal Navy ships to the Mediterranean and has extended the mission of HMS Enterprise until the summer to show its commitment to blocking off smuggling routes from North Africa to Europe.

But it will need cooperation with the Libyan government for the plan to work. How close EU vessels would go to the Libyan coast and the rules of engagement are open for discussion.

Britain envisages EU assets to identify and deter smugglers who can then be picked up by the Libyan coastguard, Cameron’s office said.

Cameron has told  lawmakers in the House of Commons on Wednesday that he’d inform Parliament in advance if the government has any plans for training or deployment of soldiers in the country.

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