Italy says France not showing solidarity over migrants

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Italy Wednesday accused neighbour France of failing to show solidarity over the issue of immgration by systematically sending back Tunisian migrants who tried to enter France from a border town.

"It is one of the serious aspects of the absence of solidarity on the part of France and the total absence of Europe, but it is not up to Italy to start a row with France," Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told a public television station.

He was being questioned about the presence in the town of Ventimiglia, the last in Italy before the French border, of Tunisian immgrants. About 100 to 200 of them arrive there every day, try to enter France, and are turned back.

Typically they have crossed the Strait of Sicily on makeshift boats and made landfall in the south of Italy, often on the tiny island of Lampedusa, before being transferred to reception centres on the mainland.

From there they travel by train to Ventimiglia hoping to enter France where many have relatives.

Rome frequently accuses the European Union of abandoning it in its battle against clandestine immigration. Sinced unrest erupted in North Africa some 20,000 migrants, mnost of them Tunisians, have arrived in Italy.

© 2011 AFP

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