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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006, 00:07 GMT 01:07 UK
Spain to get migrant patrol help
Immigrants intercepted near Tenerife, the Canary Islands. File photo
Some 7,400 migrants have landed in the Canary Islands this year
Nine EU nations have pledged to provide aircraft and patrol boats to support Spain in its effort to stem the flood of illegal migrants from Africa.

Spain says it needs additional five patrol boats, five helicopters and a surveillance plane to track refugees arriving to the Canary Islands.

Austria, Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal are backing the request.

Some 7,500 migrants have arrived in the Canary Islands in the Atlantic in 2005.

This is five times more than in the same period last year.

About 1,000 more are believed to have died making the crossing in small fishing boats.

Further talks

The agreement in principle was reached at a meeting of EU representatives in Madrid, the Spanish interior ministry said.

However, it said further talks were planned in June to decide which countries will send what and who will pay the bills.

The accord is a follow-up of an announcement of aid last week made by the EU.

Spain says more patrol boats, helicopters and surveillance aircraft are needed to monitor small - often crowded - boat that bring mostly African migrants to the Canary Islands.

Madrid has recently launched a diplomatic offensive, trying to persuade African governments to sign deals making it easier to deport migrants.

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