Libyan FM rejects EU's ‘disembarkation platforms’

Libya was working with the EU to send the migrants to their home countries, said Libya’s FM. (Reuters)
Updated 19 October 2018
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Libyan FM rejects EU's ‘disembarkation platforms’

  • All north African countries reject this proposal: Siala
  • The EU suggested setting up these “disembarkation platforms” in consultation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration

VIENNA: Libya and its north African neighbors are opposed to the EU’s plan for “regional disembarkation platforms” to stem the flow of migrants entering the bloc, Tripoli’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Taher Siala said in an Austrian newspaper interview Friday.
“All north African countries reject this proposal — Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya, as well,” Siala — who has been on an official visit to Vienna this week — told the Die Presse newspaper.
“So with which countries does the EU want to agree these disembarkation platforms?” he asked in comments reported in German.
In June, EU member states approved the idea of creating centers outside Europe to assess migrants trying to reach the bloc and decide which are refugees in need of protection and which are economic migrants who should be returned to their home countries.
The EU suggested setting up these “disembarkation platforms” in consultation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration.
Siala estimated that around 30,000 illegal migrants were currently held in detention centers in Libya “and around 750,000 outside.”
Libya was working with the EU to send the migrants to their home countries, he said.
“But unfortunately, some of these countries — many west African countries — refuse to take them back.”
In order to reduce the flow of migrants, Siala said Libya had reached an agreement with Chad, Niger and Sudan to bolster protection of its southern border.
“That’s actually where the European border begins, not the Mediterranean,” he said.
Asked what the EU could do to help protect that border, Siala suggested the bloc could offer “logistical (aid): landcruisers, drones, helicopters and perhaps a few light weapons.”
European Union and Arab leaders are to meet in Egypt in late February for their first summit as part of efforts to forge a new European-African alliance and fight migrant smuggling.
European leaders first mentioned the summit in Austria — which currently holds the rotating EU presidency — last month as they vowed to intensify talks with Egypt and other North African countries to curb illegal migration.


Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

Updated 2 min 28 sec ago
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Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

  • Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of drone attack
  • Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year

Iran said on Tuesday that a US decision to impose sanctions on the country’s supreme leader and other top officials permanently closed the path to diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.
“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet.
“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”

US President Donald Trump earlier signed an executive order that would impose fresh sanctions on Iran, amid increased tensions between the long-time foes.

Trump initially told reporters the sanctions, which will target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office, were in response to Tehran's downing of a US drone last week. Tehran has said the drone was flying in its airspace, which Washington has denied.

Later, Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone.

The US will also blacklist Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and block "billions" more in Iranian assets as part of expanded sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.

Mnuchin told reporters Zarif would be added to an economic sanctions list "later this week," adding that eight top military commanders from Iran's Revolutionary Guards have now also been blacklisted.

The US has also blamed Iran for attacks earlier this month on two oil tankers at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman. Iran, in turn, has denied that it is to blame.

Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year, when the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing of sanctions. Trump’s administration has said the deal struck under his predecessor President Barack Obama did not do enough.

Trump has said he would be open to talks with Iranian leaders, but Tehran has rejected such an offer unless Washington drops the sanctions.

The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programmes and its activities in the region.

The US also accuses Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets. In a joint statement on Monday, the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and UK expressed concern over Middle East tensions and the dangers posed by Iranian "destabilizing activity" to peace and security in Yemen and the region.