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20:15, 26 June 2017 Monday
Update: 15:18, 11 September 2012 Tuesday

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Eleven rescued after migrant boat sinks off Sicily

A coast guard aircraft spotted the wreckage drifting about 20 miles north of Pantelleria late on Monday night and the 11 were picked up by a customs police vessel.

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Italian police rescued 11 men clinging to the wreckage of a rubber motor boat after the vessel sank while they were attempting to sail from Tunisia to the island of Pantelleria, south of Sicily, coast guard and customs officials said on Tuesday.

A coast guard aircraft spotted the wreckage drifting about 20 miles north of Pantelleria late on Monday night and the 11 were picked up by a customs police vessel.

The men were taken to Pantelleria for medical checks after they spent two days in the water, the officials said.

The incident occurred after scores of people were rescued from a boat in trouble last week off the nearby island of Lampedusa, one of the main gateways into Italy for migrants seeking to reach Europe from North Africa.

At least one man died and dozens more people were reported missing after the rescue.

Thousands of refugees and would-be migrants have died attempting the Mediterranean Sea crossing from North Africa to Italy as a result of shipwreck, harsh conditions or lack of food and water. Italy has become the main focus of this seaborne migration to southern Europe over the past few years.



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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.