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Italy, France Urge 'Reform' To EU's Open-Border Treaty

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (left) greets French President Nicolas Sarkozy prior to their summit in Rome.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a joint call today for tightening the European Union's open-border treaty after a row over thousands of North African migrants.

Berlusconi told a news conference after talks in Rome today that both he and Sarkozy believed that the Schengen Treaty could be subjected to "variations" in "exceptional circumstances."

Sarkozy said France and Italy had issued a joint letter to European Union leaders calling for reform of the treaty.

Relations between the two neighbors soured after Italy granted temporary residence permits to thousands of North African migrants, allowing them to travel across Europe's border-free Schengen zone.

Paris accuses Rome of trying to escape its responsibilities by allowing migrants free transit across the border. Italy complains it has had to contend alone with the wave of migrants.

Some 25,000 migrants, many of them Tunisians, have arrived in southern Italy so far this year fleeing unrest in North Africa.

compiled from agency reports