A meeting aimed at embarking on diplomatic relations between Malta and Somalia, from where the former received the greatest number of irregular immigrants, has been held at the insistence of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat during his stay in New York for the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Maltese delegation was led by Dr Muscat, that of Somalia by Somali deputy Prime Minister Fawzia Yusuf Adam.

During the meeting, Malta made a formal request for relations to start between the two countries, a request expected to be officially confirmed by the Somali Government in the coming weeks.

This, the Government said, was the first step towards the two sides working together on irregular migration. Tangible methods of how this could be done once relations were embarked upon were discussed.

Dr Muscat said this was an important step because it opened doors to ways and possibilities of addressing the problem.

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