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France, UK to Hold Migrant-Cutting Talks

FILE: People believed to be migrants are stopped by police outside the Manston immigration short-term holding facility in Kent, England, on Nov. 2, 2022. Many of the UK's migrants crossed the English Channel on makeshift boats to claim asylum.

PARIS — France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin is to hold two days of talks in Britain from Wednesday aimed at limiting the flow of clandestine immigration across the Channel to England, his office said.

Darmanin, a right-winger who is a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, will on Wednesday meet French border police deployed in Britain and visit the U.K. domestic intelligence service MI5.

On Thursday, he will meet his counterpart Home Secretary Suella Braverman for a "working meeting" on "the fight against irregular immigration and our security cooperation," said a ministry official who asked not to be named.

The numbers of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats from France to England have proved a major bone of contention in post-Brexit relations between Paris and London.

Britain has on occasion accused Paris of not doing enough to halt the migrants while French officials including Darmanin have sometimes angrily lashed out at London.

Darmanin had an often acrimonious relationship with Braverman's predecessor Priti Patel.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, under pressure to reduce the numbers crossing, forged a new deal with Macron in March that agreed to increase British payments to fund more French police along the coast.

Darmanin is also due to travel to the British port of Dover on Thursday, said the official.

He plans to meet with the French border police and visit the "small craft operational command center, and the "mechanisms in place to combat the irregular immigration and smuggling networks..