Tunis (AFP) - Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Thursday called for all Tunisians who are in his country illegally to be repatriated and for illicit migration to be "blocked", during a visit to Tunis.
The hardline Italian minister spoke following a meeting with Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi, and several days after Italy's government adopted a series of measures promising to limit clandestine immigration.
"The priority was to block the hundreds of thousands of uncontrolled arrivals that we have received these last years," Salvini said during a joint press conference with his Tunisian counterpart Hichem Fourati.
"We are working with the Tunisian authorities to...escort to Tunisia those who come from Tunisia", the Italian minister said.
Fourati said that if the migrants "prove that they are Tunisian and their fingerprints are processed by the Tunisian authorities, they will be repatriated".
Tunisian NGOs oppose increasing a quota of 80 migrant expulsions per week by Italy to the North African country.
Italian authorities say this quota is rarely reached.
"We have discussed mechanisms for tackling networks implicated in human trafficking, which don't hesitate to trade in the blood of our young people", Fourati added.
Italy's interior ministry says 4,487 Tunisians have arrived clandestinely in Italy since the start of the year, compared to 6,092 in the whole of 2017.
Tunisia says it arrested more than 8,400 migrants between the start of the year and September 20, including 700 suspected of organising or facilitating perilous Mediterranean crossings.