November 12, 2015 / 3:03 PM / in 2 years

EU leaders discuss migration summit with Turkey's Erdogan

VALLETTA (Reuters) - European Union leaders meeting on Malta to discuss the migration crisis were considering inviting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to a summit in Brussels this month to seal an accord to curb migration, EU officials said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan smiles as he leaves from Eyup Sultan mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, November 2, 2015. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir

The executive European Commission, whose deputy chief Frans Timmermans is leading negotiations with Ankara on joint measures to cut the numbers of Syrian refugees and other migrants leaving Turkey, put forward next Sunday, Nov. 22, for a Brussels summit, officials said. However, leaders were debating options.

Aware of Europe’s weak bargaining position with Erdogan following his party’s convincing election victory this month, some national governments are wary of rushing to satisfy a demand of the Turkish leader for higher-level contacts. Some have insisted in recent days that they would only agree to an EU-Turkey summit once an accord was fully negotiated.

EU officials said, however, that Ankara was keen to fix a summit before it would start implementing its commitments to step up border security -- measures it is taking in return also for EU grants, worth a possible 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion), a deepening of its EU membership negotiations and easier EU visas for Turks.

The Commission proposed to the leaders meeting in Valletta that Ankara be offered a 3-billion euro “refugee grant facility” for the next two years to help Turkey accommodate the more than two million Syrians it is hosting.

Of that, 500 million euros would come from the EU budget and the rest, under the Commission proposal, from the 28 member states according to their national incomes.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; @macdonaldrtr; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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