Tunisia open to discuss EU migration center plan

A carabinieri police officer walks past migrants as they wait to board a ship towards Porto Empedocle, in Sicily, where they will be taken for document checks, in Lampedusa, Italy, Monday, Feb. 13, 2011. (File Photo: AP)

 Tunisia is open to discuss a European Union request to step up migrant reception centers in the country as part of a wider EU initiative to cope with an influx of asylum seekers.

Tunisian Foreign Minister Taieb Baccouche told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday the EU plan “will have to be discussed, to see how it could be put in place, and to what degree it might be applicable.”

More than 276,000 migrants entered the EU illegally last year, and Tunisia’s conflict-torn neighbor Libya is the main starting point for people headed to southern Europe.

The EU is looking to pre-screen migrants in the countries they leave or transit because its border agencies can’t cope. The EU’s top migration official will travel soon to Tunisia to discuss the project.

Last Update: 16:18 KSA 19:18 - GMT 16:18