France urges Tunisia to help fight illegal migration
PARIS - French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told his Tunisian counterpart on Tuesday that the two countries needed to work together to fight illegal immigration, amid an influx of Tunisian migrants to France.
At a working dinner in Paris with Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, Fillon "insisted on the need for France and Tunisia to fight together against illegal immigration," Fillon's office said in a statement.
Fillon also expressed France's continued support for Tunisia's political transition after the popular uprising that ousted strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, expressing "the admiration in France for what the Tunisian people are accomplishing."
Essebsi is on an official visit to France and was to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday.
In the wake of revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and conflict in Libya, north African migrants have been flocking to Europe, most of them landing on Italian soil.
Among them are thousands of French-speaking Tunisians who have taken advantage of their new-found freedom of movement to head for France to seek work and join relatives.
Many have Italian-issued temporary EU residency permits but France has vowed to deport those who cannot support themselves and has started arresting Tunisians on the streets of Paris, Marseille and Nice.
The issue has sparked calls for reform in the European Union's internal open-border policy.