US President Donald Trump meets with King Felipe VI of Spain at The White House in Washington, DC Credit: EPA/Chris Kleponis
US President Donald Trump meets with King Felipe VI of Spain at The White House in Washington, DC Credit: EPA/Chris Kleponis

The Spanish Foreign Minister, Joseph Borrell, says US President Trump advised Spain to build a wall in Africa to halt migrant flows.

President Donald Trump advised Spain to build a wall across the Sahara desert to solve Europe's migrant crisis, according to Spanish Foreign Minister Joseph Borrell. Trump's advice came during a visit by the foreign minister, a former president of the European Parliament, to the United States in June.

Faux pas

Trump's suggestion, reportedly made when Borrell accompanied Spain's royal couple, King Felipe and Queen Letitia, on a visit to the White House, was a faux pas. The US president ignored the skepticism shown by Spanish diplomats, who said the North African desert was too long for a wall. Borrell, quoting Trump, said, "The border with the Sahara cannot be bigger than our border with Mexico." The US-Mexico border is 3,145 km long, while the Sahara stretches for 4,800 km. Madrid has no sovereignty over the Sahara. Spain has two small enclaves on the coast of North Africa - Ceuta and Melilla - separated from Morocco by border fences. The enclaves represent a major attraction for African migrants looking for a better life in Europe or fleeing persecution and war.

'No mass migration in Spain'

Spain is one of the main arrival countries for migrants to Europe. This year it overtook Italy and Greece with a reported 35,000 arrivals, three times as many as compared to the same period last year. The increase was also connected to a more open policy towards migration due to the Socialist government of Pedro Sanchez. 

Borrell did not agree with the idea of a wall, saying he believed the number of migrants welcomed this year by a country of over 40 million people does not represent "mass migration." 

Trump has remained committed to building a wall on the US border with Mexico. Mexico has refused to comply, and funding for the plan remains held up in the US Congress.

 

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