EU leaders to discuss possible migration deal with Turkey

Turkey is thought to be hosting some two million people, most of them fleeing the war in neighbouring Syria.

European leaders are to discuss measures to ease the region's migration crisis, with Turkey the focus of their efforts in Brussels.

Nearly 600,000 refugees have reached the EU by sea so far this year, most via Turkey, says the International Organization for Migration.

Turkey is thought to be hosting some two million people, most of them fleeing the war in neighbouring Syria.

EU leaders are seeking closer co-operation with Turkey.

Ahead of Thursday's meeting in Brussels, EU Council President Donald Tusk has warned that concessions will be granted only if Turkey helps reduce the influx of migrants, which stands at a record level.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected in Ankara for talks at the weekend.

EU leaders are keen for the Turkish government to sign up to a joint action plan that includes greater financial and procedural support for Turkey to deal with migrants, combating people smuggling, strengthening return operations and gaining permission from Turkey to help patrol its coastline.

In exchange, Turkey would undertake various measures including implementing asylum procedures and giving priority to "the opening of the six refugee reception centres built with the EU co-funding".

Ankara, however, is expected to press for more rapid progress towards visa-free travel for its citizens to European countries that have abolished border controls within the so-called Schengen area.

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