Italy called on Sunday for a common European Union solution to the problem of illegal immigration, days after the latest reported drownings of migrants in the Mediterranean.
"We must consider this a European problem. The EU has made many statements... but has not yet said just what should happen when a group of migrants reaches the borders of Europe," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told a news conference.
He made his comments after Italian authorities found a boat on Thursday carrying five Eritrean migrants. According to the migrants, 73 others had died as the boat crossed the Mediterranean from Africa.
"All we Europeans, all 27 countries, must bear responsibility for these people," Frattini said.
Talks with Malta about policing the island's territorial waters must continue, perhaps involving other countries, he said. Italy says Malta's territorial waters are too large for a country of its size and means to police properly.
"We continue to believe the talks which have been going on for 10 years with Malta over that area of sea are indispensable for the whole international community," Frattini said.
On Saturday, Malta's Foreign Minister Tonio Borg said Malta would not sign an agreement with Italy to reduce its search and rescue jurisdiction at sea.