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EU leaders press on with effort to slow migrant arrivals

The Associated Press

In this Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, photo, migrants wait for food and water distribution as they wait to be allowed to cross to Austria, in Sentilj, Slovenia. With the European Union estimating that three million more migrants will arrive in Europe over the next year, the patience of Slovenians, traditionally known for tolerance, is wearing thin. Their government announced Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, that a fence will be put up to control the flow, although not completely to stop it. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Associated Press

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By FRANCES D’EMILIO and LORNE COOK, Associated Press

VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — European leaders are pressing ahead with efforts to discourage economic migrants and find a way to send thousands back who don’t qualify for asylum.

EU and African leaders on Thursday began a second round of talks in Malta, with the Europeans looking to seal migration agreements with individual African countries.

One deal was signed with Ethiopia on Wednesday. Countries including Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Sudan could follow suit in exchange for millions in development aid.

Sudan’s foreign minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, says he sees “prospects for cooperation, particularly on migration.”

We hope that we will be supported, particularly on border management, stability and services,” he said, noting his country’s “limited resources.”

Gambia’s trade minister, Abdoulie Jobe, said that his country is hoping for a combination of money and project support to get young people to work so they don’t leave.

“We believe that if there is a lot of investment in agriculture we can then take our youth into that sector to propel economic and social development,” he said.

Malta’s prime minister, who is hosting the summit, said he would hold talks in Algeria next week.

The EU estimates that up to 3 million more people could arrive in Europe seeking sanctuary or jobs by 2017.

The arrivals have overwhelmed border authorities and countries simply to do not have the capacity to accommodate everyone.

Unilateral actions by countries struggling to cope with the arrivals have raised troubling questions about the future of the Schengen passport-free zone.

Sweden — with the highest number of migrants per capita in Europe — was reintroducing border controls on Thursday, and its leader defended the move.

“When our authorities tell us we cannot guarantee the security and control of our borders, we need to listen,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said.

Lofven said his EU partners understand the move, and called for a revamp of the rules governing Europe’s passport-free area.

“We need another system. That is obvious,” he said.

Tensions were also high in the Balkans on Thursday, as Slovenia continued to erect a razor-wire fence on its border with Croatia to hold back the migrant influx.

The two countries have a long-standing territorial dispute dating back to the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and Croatia believes the border fence is encroaching on its soil.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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