Wed, 12 Aug 2020

VALLETTA, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Malta and Libya should continue to work better together to prevent loss of lives at sea, Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela told his Libyan counterpart Fayez Serraj here on Monday.

Abela said the "excellent" relationship between the two countries will lead to better border controls.

Abela stressed the importance of better border control across Europe and the Mediterranean, and he thanked the Libyan coastguard and Libyan authorities for helping in saving lives at sea.

"Malta considers Libya as a trusted friend and this is why it looks to continue this cooperation in key areas such as the protection of our borders and investment," he said.

"This is our vision: better protection, less human smuggling, less criminal activity, and most importantly, less loss of lives," Abela added as he pledged more support to Libya's rebuilding process.

Serraj said his visit to Malta -- a follow-up to Abela's visit to Tripoli in May -- was part of the frequent visits carried out with friendly neighboring countries.

"We need to work together for the benefit of our peoples. I hope it would be a fruitful visit beneficial for people in both countries," said the Libyan prime minister.

The meeting was held as Malta continues to pressure other European countries to share the burden on illegal migration from Libya. Malta and Italy's Lampedusa are at the southernmost tip of Europe and are on the receiving end of the hundreds of migrants who cross from Libya seeking a better future in Europe.

Around 2,000 migrants who were leaving Libya to cross the Mediterranean in the first four months this year had been detained by the Libyan coastguard and prevented from reaching Malta, Maltese Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo said on June 23.

Malta's migrant detention centers are almost at full capacity, especially after the landing of a large group of more than 450 migrants last month.

The migrants had been temporarily placed on tourist vessels during the COVID-19 pandemic when Malta closed its ports to migrants, leaving them stranded on the high seas until solutions were found.

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