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CALAIS, France (AP) — Top European migration officials are holding an emergency meeting Sunday in the French port of Calais to find ways to better fight migrant smuggling, after 27 people died trying to cross the English Channel to Britain in an overcrowded inflatable boat.

U.K. officials will be notably absent from the gathering at the Calais City Hall, after Wednesday’s sinking prompted a new political crisis between Britain and France.

The neighbors accuse each other of not doing enough to deter people from taking the treacherous journey.

France is carrying out a national organized crime investigation into the sinking, the deadliest migration accident on the Channel on record. Iraqi Kurds and at least one Somali were among those aboard, though most have not been publicly identified yet.

Government ministers from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France will meet in Calais with officials from the European Union and EU border agency Frontex and police agency Europol.

They are focusing on smuggling networks, who charge from 3,000 to 7,000 euros for the journey across the Channel. France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said a car with German tags was seized in connection with the investigation.

Aid groups argue for more humane, coordinated asylum policies instead of just more police. At camps along the French coast, clusters of people from Sudan and Kurds from Iran and Iraq huddle under the chilly rain, waiting for their chance to cross the Channel. They’re undeterred by Wednesday’s deaths or the stepped-up beach patrols.

The number of migrants trying to cross the channel in small boats has jumped this year, amid pandemic travel restrictions and after Brexit. Overall, however, the number of migrants arriving in Britain is low compared with other European countries.

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Iran nuclear talks pause as diplomats confer with capitals

VIENNA (AP) — Talks to salvage the tattered 2015 nuclear deal with Iran have paused while diplomats return to capitals for political consultations, European officials said Friday.

“January has been the most intensive period of these talks to date,” British, German and French negotiators said in a joint statement. “Everyone knows we are reaching the final stage, which requires political decisions.”

Russia’s representative at the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, said the meeting was expected to resume next week.

The United States pulled out of the Vienna accord in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump and reimpose heavy sanctions on Iran. Tehran has responded by increasing the purity and amounts of uranium it enriches and stockpiles, in breach of the accord.

U.S. President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal, which is still supported by Russia, the three European powers and China.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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