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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 02:59 GMT
Funds cloud Africa migrant talks
Illegal migrants and Red Cross workers on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife
Tens of thousands have arrived in Tenerife this year
Ministerial talks are under way in Libya to try to stem the flow of African migrants to Europe but face an impasse over the issue of funding.

Ministers from Europe and Africa want to adopt a declaration seeking ways to address issues like the protection of refugees and joint border patrols.

But African ministers want migration to be linked with a multi-billion dollar development fund paid for by the EU.

The talks come amid growing European concerns at rising African immigration.

This year the Spanish authorities detained 28,000 people in the Canary Islands, while 16,000 were held on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The two-day meeting is the first of its kind and scale to be held on the issue.

A join action plan to combat the slave trade, especially in women and children, is expected to be agreed.

'Combating poverty'

Ministers from more than 50 European and African countries are meeting in Libya.

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi
We hope most people will be serious to solve this problem, but I am not sure they will be serious - I think this is just propaganda
Muammar Gaddafi

But BBC correspondents say progress could become deadlocked over financial proposals.

Libya has called on the EU to give Africa $10bn (7.8bn euros; 5.2bn) a year for development projects to prevent people from leaving their countries.

Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelrahmane Chalgham said the development money was needed to combat poverty, which was fuelling migration, and the problem could not be solved by repressive measures alone.

Morocco proposed a "joint fund with voluntary contributions" to develop projects in African countries, but its Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa said European representatives were not keen.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, stressed "the EU's commitment to African development is total".

But Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has cast doubts on the talks.

"We hope most people will be serious to solve this problem. But I am not sure they will be serious. I think this is just propaganda," he said.

European and North African countries face a growing number of illegal immigrants.

Libya and Morocco are North Africa's biggest launch pads for sub-Saharan Africans who make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.

Europe has repeatedly asked both countries to step up their efforts to curb the flow.

Map showing main migration routes




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