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Sophia Operation has not stopped: Italian Defense Minister

The Operation of Sophia, the European naval mission led by Rome to fight illegal immigration, has not stopped, but its missions have been curtailed, Italian Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta said Tuesday.

In a press statement, Trenta stressed that the regulations of the operation should be amended to allow other European countries to participate in it, share the burden of hosting illegal migrants and combat oil smuggling.

In March, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini cast doubt on the continuity of Operation Sophia.

Mogherini, vice-president of the European Commission, explained that there are “many disagreements” between the participating countries regarding the operation, which may eventually risk termination by the end of March, unless all states reach an agreement on it.

Further, Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was cited in Italian media complaining that people rescued by Sophia are only offloaded in Italy.

The complaint is part of an outstanding dispute by Salvini, who last year insisted that people should be disembarked in other EU states.

“Sophia was meant to fight people smugglers and ended up bringing 45,000 migrants to Italy,” Salvini said in an earlier press statement.

“We can control our own border. We don’t need technical help to pick people up at sea. What we need is a redistribution system for asylum seekers,” he added.

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