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Migration

Germany's Steinmeier expects UN will approve EU anti-people smuggling mission

Germany's foreign minister says he's hopeful the UN Security Council will provide a mandate to a proposed EU mission against people trafficking. The mission targets smugglers and migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters on Thursday he was confident no UN Security Council member would use its veto power against the mission, announced yesterday.

"My impression is that there is no veto in principal from one of the veto powers in the Security Council of the United Nations," he said on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Antalya, Turkey.

"It looks to me that at the current moment it is more a question of formulations. I hope my assessment is right," he said. His comments indicate the EU does not fear non-EU permanent Security Council members Russia and China using their veto on the issue, which is thought would be unlikely to proceed without a UN mandate.

On Wednesday, the EU's executive proposed quotas to redistribute migrants on the continent's southern shores, and to directly resettle 20,000 people in need of protection.

The mission would set maximum refugee limits for each EU nation based on factors like population and employment levels, among others. It is to be discussed on Monday at a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Brussels.

It's understood that leading nations in the EU - Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - have promised to deploy warships in the mission. The bloc is keen to target criminal networks operating out of Libya, from where many boats launch.

Britain is refusing to take part in the quota part of the scheme, saying it would only encourage more people to risk their lives.

The issue of migration has taken on a new urgency in the bloc, after last month's shipwreck in which more than 800 migrants are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.

More than 5,000 people, escaping conflict and civil war, have died over the past 18 months while trying to reach the EU by crossing the Mediterranean. Many board flimsy rubber dinghies or fishing boats.

jr/kms (dpa, AFP)

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