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EU, Turkey agree €3 billion aid deal to stem migrant crisis

AFP / Bulent Kilic |Migrants and refugees hide behind bushes as they wait for the night to fall to try to cross to the Greek island of Kos from Bodrum in the Turkish province of Mugla on November 7, 2015

The European Union and Turkey agreed on a deal to stem the migrant crisis, including a three-billion-euro ($3.2-billion) aid package for Syrian refugees in Turkey, EU president Donald Tusk said after a summit in Brussels on Sunday.

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"Our agreement sets out a clear plan for the timely re-establishment of order at our shared frontier. We will also step up our assistance to Syrian refugees in Turkey through a new refugee facility of three billion euros," Tusk told a press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

The EU also agreed to open a new chapter in Turkey's stalled bid for membership of the bloc in exchange for Turkey's cooperation in reducing the flow of refugees and migrants, Tusk said.

Visa requirements for Turkish citizens visiting the EU's passport-free Schengen area would also be relaxed by October 2016, he said.

Brussels would "monitor closely at least once a month" the progress being made by Turkey, Tusk added.

Davutoglu said the deal would "re-energise" Turkey's EU accession process, which has made little headway since it started in 2005.

"This is a historic day and a historic meeting, the first meeting of this kind since 11 years," the Turkish premier added.

"No one can guarantee anything on the Syrian issue, we don't know what will go on in Syria, but I can assure that Turkey will be fulfilling all the promises of the joint plan. Our purpose with the EU is to prevent new waves of refugees from Syria and to manage the existing refugee crisis," he said.

"This three billion euros is to be spent for refugees in Turkey, it's not for Turkey."

(AFP)

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