Italy, France call for EU migrant centres in countries of origin

Photo showing French President Emmanuel Macron (L) welcomes new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (R) before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, June 15, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 15 June 2018

Italy, France call for EU migrant centres in countries of origin

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron met Italy’s new premier Giuseppe Conte Friday to try to patch up relations after sparks flew between the two countries over Rome’s rejection of a migrant rescue ship.
Conte arrived at the Elysee Palace in Paris for afternoon talks ahead of a press conference, with both smiling as Macron greeted the Italian leader.
Despite efforts by both sides to play down testy exchanges in recent days, the clash underscores deep divisions in Europe over how to handle the massive influx of migrants from across the Mediterranean in recent years.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday called for the European Union to set up centers to process migrant asylum claims in their home countries, a proposal backed by French President Emmanuel Macron.
“We should create European centers in the countries of departure,” Conte said at a joint press conference with Macron in Paris, referring to African nations that have seen an exodus toward Europe in recent years.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is embroiled in a showdown with the right wing of her governing coalition, which is demanding that she immediately ditch her liberal migration policy and tighten border controls.
An opinion poll by Infratest Dimap suggests 62 percent of Germans back the tougher stance favored by her interior minister, including turning back undocumented migrants at the border and deporting rejects faster.
Merkel has pleaded for more time to negotiate with her European partners on a common response ahead of an EU summit on June 28-29.
But there are few signs that European leaders are anywhere near being ready to coordinate their policies despite a looming end-of-June deadline to change the EU’s current asylum rules.

The Aquarius rescue vessel at the center of this week’s row was continuing on Friday to make its way across the Mediterranean to Spain, which agreed to take the 629 migrants aboard after Italy and Malta refused the ship permission to dock.
Italy’s hard-line new interior minister Matteo Salvini said he hoped the boat would get “a rousing welcome” in Spain, adding that his country was set to present ideas for migration reform to European partners.
“I have already shared a fundamental idea with the Germans and the Austrians — that of defending external borders with men and money, including the Mediterranean,” he said.

The spat between France and Italy erupted this week after Macron accused Rome of “cynicism and irresponsibility” for refusing to let the Aquarius dock.
Italy’s new government hit back, accusing Paris of giving “hypocritical lessons” and threatening to pull out of the meeting with Macron.


Trump says Baghdadi successor in US crosshairs

Updated 36 min 34 sec ago

Trump says Baghdadi successor in US crosshairs

  • The US president used his speech in New York to claim that Daesh’s leadership was running scared in the wake of Baghdadi’s death
  • Donald Trump: Thanks to American warriors, Al-Baghdadi is dead, his second in charge is dead, we have our eyes on number three

NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump placed the Daesh group’s new chief in the crosshairs Monday as he marked Veterans’ Day by celebrating the killing of the extremists’ former leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

While US presidents traditionally mark the day by laying a wreath at a vast military cemetery in Arlington, near Washington, Trump traveled to New York where he made an address ahead of the city’s annual parade of veterans.

Trump was widely criticized after announcing a full withdrawal of US troops from Syria last month, with opponents and even some allies saying it could allow Daesh to rebuild as well as leaving US-allied Kurdish fighters vulnerable to a Turkish invasion.

But the US president used his speech in New York to claim that Daesh’s leadership was running scared in the wake of Baghdadi’s death in a raid in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib on October 26.

“Just a few weeks ago, American special forces raided the Daesh compound and brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice,” he said.

“Thanks to American warriors, Al-Baghdadi is dead, his second in charge is dead, we have our eyes on number three.

“His reign of terror is over, and we have our enemies running very, very scared. Those who threaten our people don’t stand a chance against the righteous might of the American military.”

After the death of Baghdadi and Daesh’s main spokesman, Abu Hassan Al-MuHajjir, in a raid the following day, the organization named the little known Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Quraishi as its new leader.

Following the uproar over his announcement of a full troop withdrawal, Trump said that he would leave some troops in the region to protect valuable oil fields.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview at the weekend that US troop levels in northern Syria would probably stabilize at around 500.