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Sarkozy in Senegal talks on immigration

Published on 15/12/2003

DAKAR, Dec 14 (AFP) - French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday began a two-day visit to Senegal, where his decision to use charter aircraft to deport illegal immigrants en masse stirred up a storm of protest early this year.

Sarkozy is to hold talks with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade on Monday after meeting Prime Minister Idrissa Seck and Interior Minister Macky Sall, and is expected to outline new French proposals to persuade legal immigrants to return home.

“Mr. Sarkozy is here as a friend, a partner,” said Sall. But asked about tensions between the two countries, he replied: “Who said things would work between us.”

Sarkozy recently visited Mali, another west African state, where he said the number of Malians agreeing to go home had doubled from 42 last year to 84 this year after the financial incentive was increased from EUR 3,600 to EUR 7,000 (USD 8,400).

According to the International Office of Migration, only nine of the 47,000 Senegalese estimated to be legally resident in France took advantage of the offer last year.

In March and April, more than 125 Senegalese were sent home aboard three specially chartered aircraft after being refused entry to France.

The decision shocked many Senegalese and on June 28, Senegal expelled nine French citizens who it said were in a “delicate” situation.

Sarkozy is to visit China next month, another source of large numbers of clandestine immigrants to France, as part of efforts to convince governments to crack down on people trafficking.

“I am in favor of immigration,” Sarkozy said before arriving in Dakar. “I am not afraid to increase the number of visas for France…” But he warned that clandestine immigrants would be sent home.

 © AFP

                                                                Subject: France news