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France urges Italy to contain migration flow

REUTERS

France on Friday urged its neighbour Italy to "hold back" a mounting tide of Tunisian migrants that has begun to head to Europe.

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French Interior Minister Claude Gueant met police and immigration officials on the Italian border about what the French government fears will be an "uncontrollable" refugee flow.

"We expect our Italian friends to play by European rules," Gueant said.

"It is the responsibility of the country that first receives them. We ask them to hold back those who turn up there, and that they take back those we send back."

Thousands of Tunisians began appearing on the Italian island of Lampedusa about a month ago.

France is Tunisia's former colonial administrator and already has several hundred thousand residents of Tunisian descent, and so it is worried that many Tunisians that enter Europe via Italy will continue toward the French border.

The French government is also concerned Tunisians will be joined by Libyans and Egyptians as political unrest spreads on a route already taken by many undocumented migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

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