EU leaders discuss Libya - Italy picks up 600 migrants within a few hours
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EU leaders discuss Libya - Italy picks up 600 migrants within a few hours

From left, Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy, Italian Prime Minister Renzi, Gernman Chancellor Merkel, British Prime Minister Cameron, French President Hollande, EU Foreign Affairs chief Mogherini and Prime Minister Muscat.

From left, Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy, Italian Prime Minister Renzi, Gernman Chancellor Merkel, British Prime Minister Cameron, French President Hollande, EU Foreign Affairs chief Mogherini and Prime Minister Muscat.

Europe's major powers are discussing Libya in the margins of an EU summit today, with leaders expected to focus on efforts to end the political chaos and conflict in the country and rising migrant flows.

The leaders of Britain, Germany, France, Italy, along with Spain, Malta and the EU's foreign policy chief, are due to meet before resuming talks with Turkey on an EU migration plan in Brussels, diplomats and Spain's prime minister said.

"The meeting on Libya concerns all main issues for the stabilisation of the country," a diplomat said.

The meeting on Libya concerns all main issues for the stabilisation of the country

The meeting comes days after EU diplomats agreed to prepare sanctions against Libyan leaders seen as blocking a new U.N.-backed unity government that is trying to move to Tripoli from Tunis. 

"The situation is quite worrying," Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said. "Libya is a country where Daesh (Islamic State) is taking positions, it is a country used by people smuggling mafias ... We will see what we can do."

The International Organization for Migration also warned that "the Libya to Italy route is getting very, very active," with the rescue of over 2,000 people in past three days, according to a spokesman in Geneva.

The unity government was named under a plan to end the political chaos and conflict that has beset Libya since the Western-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi five years ago. That confusion has contributed to a rise in migrants setting off from Libya in an effort to reach Italy.

Since 2014, the country has had two rival parliaments and governments, one based in Tripoli and one in the east. 

Italy rescues hundreds of migrants at sea, recovers body
 

Meanwhile, Italian ships picked up some 600 migrants and recovered one body today.

Italy's coastguard and navy tweeted that they had picked up the migrants from several different vessels. Rescue operations were continuing and the number was likely to rise, a coastguard spokesman said.

"Despite some bad weather and choppy sea conditions, the boats are coming," the coastguard spokesman said. 

"As of today, almost 12,000 migrants have landed in Italy, about 2,000 more compared to the number of migrants that arrived in the same period last year," he said. 

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