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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 18:35 GMT
Italy-Libya in immigration deal
African immigrants who failed to make it across the Mediterranean are picked up by a police patrol boat
Thousands of Africans a year try to reach the EU on poor vessels
Italy and Libya have agreed to mount joint patrols in the Mediterranean Sea to stop illegal immigrants crossing from Libya to Italy.

Under the deal, Italy will supply six police patrol boats to help officials from both countries watch the ports and beaches that serve as departure points.

Each year, thousands of Africans try to reach the EU on unseaworthy vessels.

Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato said the deal would save lives and dismantle criminal gangs.

He was joined by Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Shalgam as they signed the agreement in Tripoli.

The deal between Italy and its former colony did not state when the joint patrols would begin.

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