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Italy, France Team On Immigration

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters Friday that he and his Italian counterpart agreed to work "decisively and humanely" to stem the flow of illegal immigrants, Italian news agencies reported.

Leaving the one-hour meeting with Giuliano Amato, Sarkozy said the two countries hoped to present soon a common initiative to combat illegal immigration.

"Italy and France, like all European countries, are confronted with the problem of massive and illegal immigration. We agreed that we will intensify our efforts and work together in the same direction, decisively and humanely," Sarkozy said, according to the Apcom and Ansa news agencies.

Sarkozy also praised cooperation between France and Italy in the fight against terrorism, the agencies reported.

The two ministers met on a day when more than 250 illegal immigrants landed in two boats on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

Each year, thousands of illegal immigrants make the crossing from North Africa, often in fragile vessels that sink before reaching the Italian coasts or islands such as Malta that lie on the way.

Italy has been trying to encourage northern African countries, especially Libya, to crack down on smugglers who leave their shores with their passengers, many of whom pay thousands of dollars for the journey.

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