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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 05:14 GMT 06:14 UK
UK to fund Tunnel security
Refugees in the Sangatte camp
The UK's eventual aim is the closure of Sangatte
The UK has pledged about 5m to beef up security at the French end of the Channel Tunnel.

The package was among a number of measures agreed between France and the UK in an attempt to progress to the eventual closure of the nearby Sangatte refugee camp.

But France said it would not set a date for closure of the camp - which has been described as a springboard for illegal immigrants trying to reach the UK - until the UK toughened up its immigration laws.

The measures were agreed at a meeting in London between UK Home Secretary David Blunkett and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy.

Agreed measures
UK will fund 5m security measures at Frethun
More UK-France joint police operations
UK will consider compulsory ID cards
France may set a date for closing Sangatte after UK immigration legislation is changed
The 5m will fund fencing, alarms and surveillance equipment worth about 5m at the Frethun rail freight depot near the tunnel entrance.

Groups of refugees from Sangatte have been trying to break into Frethun and board the trains on a nightly basis - which has led to severely disrupted freight services.

There will be more joint operations between UK and French intelligence to crack down on people-traffickers.

Mr Blunkett also said he would publish a consultation paper on identity cards.

This was welcomed by France, which has called on Britain to tackle the so-called "pull factors" attracting people to the UK.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said the closure of Sangatte remained a goal, because the issue had been "poisoning" relations between the two countries.

He said he would set a date for the closure of the camp after the UK's new Asylum and Immigration Bill - currently working its way through Parliament - was in place.

'New legislation'

"For us closing Sangatte remains an objective," he told a news conference.

"And as soon as new legislation is in force we will be ready to commit to a timetable."

Mr Blunkett said afterwards he hoped the measures would "actually get this matter resolved once and for all."

The Red Cross-run camp houses about 1,500 refugees and has been a bone of contention between the two countries for some months.

The Home Office estimates that 1,000 illegal immigrants try to access the UK through the tunnel each week.

Further negotiations between the two ministers will be held in Paris on 12 July.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sue Nelson
"There'll be more joint operations between British and French intelligence"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Sangatte
Is closing the camp the solution?

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25 Jun 02 | UK Politics
24 Jun 02 | UK Politics
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