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French official: Calais border deal with UK must be changed

Associated Press Associated Press 29/08/2016

LONDON — The leader of the French region that includes the Channel port of Calais said Monday he wants a new system for handling asylum-seekers trying to reach Britain from France.

Xavier Bertrand told the BBC that people seeking asylum in the United Kingdom should do so at a "hotspot" in France, where unsuccessful applicants would be immediately deported to their country of origin.

Under an agreement between Britain and France, U.K. passport controls currently take place on the French side of cross-Channel services. While European Union rules require asylum-seekers to file for refugee protection in the first EU country they enter, in practice many seek to apply in Britain.

For years, thousands have camped near the northern port of Calais and tried to sneak onto trucks and trains bound for England.

The matter, however, is not on the agenda Tuesday when new U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd travels to Paris to meet her French counterpart. Rudd is due to discuss security issues with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during the trip, her first overseas engagement.

"We remain committed to working together to protect our shared border in Calais and to maintain the juxtaposed controls," the Home Office said in a statement. "The French government has repeatedly made it clear that removing the juxtaposed controls would not be in the interests of France."

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