Britain, France agree greater cooperation on Channel crossings by migrants

AFP - SAMEER AL-DOUMY

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron in their first call since Sunak took office agreed on Friday on greater cooperation to prevent migrants crossing the Channel, the British government said.

A UK PM's office spokesperson said the leaders were "committed to deepening our partnership to deter deadly journeys across the Channel that benefit organised criminals".

Sunak stressed the "importance for both nations to make the Channel route completely unviable for people traffickers".

This year, a record number of 37,570 people have crossed the Channel to England in small boats.

The issue has caused a major political headache for the UK government, which promised tighter border controls after leaving the European Union.

Tensions have risen between London and Paris, with the UK government accusing France of not doing enough to stop the crossings.

The Times reported on Friday, citing government sources, that Sunak wants to tighten up terms of a draft deal with France on cross-Channel cooperation and make it "more ambitious".

French officers patrolling beaches

Sunak wants the draft deal with France to include a minimum number of French officers patrolling beaches, the report said.

It said the prime minister also wants new internal targets for the UK interior ministry to process 80 percent of asylum claims within six months, to reduce the current backlog.


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