A top Libyan official says his country has stopped more than 40,000 illegal immigrants from trying to reach Europe this year.

Interior Minister Naser Al Mabrouk made the comment in Rome Friday in a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart, Giuseppe Pisanu.

Mr. Mabrouk appealed for international cooperation in tackling illegal immigration, and proposed that his country host an international conference on the issue.

Libya is a popular transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East who try to make the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Europe in search of jobs and economic opportunities.

Some information for this story provided by AFP and Reuters.