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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama attends a European Union and Western Balkans leaders' summit, in Brussels December 13, 2023. — Reuters pic
LONDON, Dec 15 — The leaders of Britain, Italy and Albania will meet in Rome this weekend to discuss how to dealing with illegal immigration, Downing Street said today.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Albanian premier Edi Rama will gather with Italian PM Giorgia Meloni at her official residence tomorrow.
Sunak and Rama will also address a political festival organised by Meloni’s far-right party in Rome the same day.
Sunak’s office said the meeting would “be focused on joint efforts to tackle illegal immigration and organised crime”.
The British Conservative leader’s relationship with Meloni, who took office at the head of a hard-right coalition in October 2022, has bloomed over the past year.
Both premiers have promised to tackle the large number of arrivals on their country’s shores, penning a joint letter in October calling for tougher action from EU leaders on illegal migration.
Both have reached deals with Albania to try to address the issue.
Under Britain’s deal, signed a year ago, Albanians arriving in the UK on small boats across the Channel can be sent back immediately.
Almost a third of all those arriving in the UK on small boats in 2022 — almost 13,000 out of around 45,000 in total — were Albanian.
Sunak has credited the arrangement with helping to reduce the number of arrivals by boat by a third this year, although almost 30,000 people have still made the dangerous journey.
The British prime minister is also trying to push through the UK parliament controversial plans to send all such arrivals to Rwanda.
His interior minister James Cleverly acknowledged this week that the plans were “novel” and “pushing at the edge of the envelope”.
Last month, Meloni and Rama announced a deal to build two Italian migrant centres on Albanian territory.
They will house asylum seekers rescued by the Italian coastguard in the Mediterranean while their cases are being processed.
The plans sparked criticism from opposition parties in both countries and non-governmental groups.
On Wednesday, Albania’s Constitutional Court temporarily blocked ratification of the agreement by lawmakers.
It ordered a public hearing next month to determine whether the agreement violated the constitution.
Sunak and Rama are also due to address the Atreju festival organised by Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party tomorrow, alongside billionaire X owner Elon Musk.
Previous attendees at the event include former Donald Trump strategist Steve Bannon and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. — AFP
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