Mediterranean countries pledge to cooperate to stem human trafficking

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VALLETTA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Mediterranean governments pledged on Friday to cooperate in their common fight against human trafficking.

The pledge was made during the 15th meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 5+5 Western Mediterranean Dialogue which was held in Malta on Jan. 17-18.

The declaration adopted at the meeting, entitled Working Together: A Sustainable Future for the Western Mediterranean, is based on three overarching themes: sustainable development, youth, migration and mobility.

The ministers exchanged views on challenges being faced in the Mediterranean, as well as their mutual concern about the situation in Libya, among other matters.

Malta's Foreign Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela, who co-chaired the meeting, said that the solution should also include people's attitudes towards migration, in order to address the narrative regarding migrants as a threat or a source of fear, and policies can then be drawn up on migration based on facts.

Addressing a press conference at the end of the meeting, Abela said there had been agreement that the challenges being faced were multi-faceted and that improving the situation in North Africa was essential in dealing with migration.

"The Mediterranean remains at the essence of our external relations dossier, with the overall objective of bringing peace, stability, and sustainable growth in the region," Abela said.

Algeria's Minister Abdelkader Messahel, who is also co-president of the meeting, emphasized the need for alternative means of income to keep people away from human smuggling. Such solutions, he said, could go a long way in helping fight trafficking in the region.

Participants at the meeting were the foreign ministers of Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia. High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, Secretary-General of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) Taieb Baccouche, President of the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) Elisabeth Guigou, Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Nasser Kamel, and President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Pedro Roque also participated as partners. Enditem

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