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G-6 Interior Ministers Meet for 2 Day Summit

Interior ministers of the G-6 countries - France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Spain and Britain - are in Venice for a two-day summit. In their first meeting Friday, discussions focused on immigration and drug trafficking. Sabina Castelfranco reports for VOA from Venice.

Interior ministers of the G-6 gathered on the San Clemente island in Venice to discuss ways to resolve common problems in security, immigration, drug trafficking and terrorism.

In their Friday afternoon sessions, they focused on immigration and drug trafficking.

Italy's interior minister, Giuliano Amato, who coordinated the meeting, said immigration laws are changing as experience teaches Europeans how to deal with the huge influx.

Coming out of the meeting, Spain's interior minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, said an important step was taken because, until now, G-6 discussions had only focused on the fight against illegal immigration. He added that the other side of the coin, legal immigration, has now been addressed.

The Italian interior minister said this opinion was shared by those present.

Amato said officials now share the conviction that if mechanisms of legal entry do not work well, illegal immigration will increase. The Spanish minister added that legal immigration is an important instrument, and he explained why.

He said that offering quotas for legal entry is a way of dissuading those who want to enter illegally. He said legal immigration can also discourage people from risking their lives in the Atlantic to reach the coast of Europe.

The Spanish minister also said Europe needs workers and Africans need jobs. He said those needs can be satisfied by an agreement on legal and illegal immigration.

The interior ministers also discussed what they referred to as strong pressure on Europe by drug-traffickers who have opened new routes through Africa. They say the same routes are being used by illegal immigrants and possibly for the transport of explosives.

Amato said the group is concerned about heroin arriving from the East and about cocaine, which is experiencing greater demand and is arriving in greater amounts.

He added that in addition to the traditional Atlantic route, which goes from Colombia into Spain, an African route for cocaine is now operating. The route passes through western Africa en route to the Mediterranean countries and Europe.

The Italian interior minister said Colombians are using bases in Africa for drug trafficking. The ministers agreed that Europe and Africa need to work together to block the routes. But, he noted, this is not easy because security is weak in some African nations.