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US backs NATO blockade of Libya to close migrant route

Italian navy personnel and rescued migrants ride in a boat after a resuce operation off the Libyan coast, in the Mediterranean Sea on January 27, 2016The United States on Monday offered its backing for a NATO naval operation off Libya in support of a controversial Italian plan to close the Western Mediterranean migrant route to Europe. “Barack Obama said he was willing to commit NATO assets to block the traffic in human beings and the people smugglers that we refer to as modern slavers,” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told reporters after meeting the US president and the leaders of Britain, France and Germany in the German city of Hanover. The talks touched on the migrant crisis as well as instability and Islamist infiltration in Libya, a departure point for 350,000 people who have set sail to Italy since the start of 2014.

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