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Nearly 665,000 people applied for asylum in the European Union last year, almost as low a number as before the migration crisis of 2015, official figures showed on Monday.
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) recorded 664,480 applications for international protection in 2018, down for the third year running and 10 percent lower than in 2017.
EASO noted the figure was only slightly above the 662,165 applications lodged in 2014 and dramatically lower than the 1,393,920 in 2015.
The 28-nation bloc split politically four years ago over the surge in people fleeing civil war in Syria as well as violence and poverty in other parts of the Middle East and Africa.
The EU has since slashed arrivals of asylum seekers and economic migrants mainly through cooperation deals with Turkey and Libya, from where smugglers set sail for Europe.
Under international law, Europe is required to admit people fleeing war or political persecution but can deport those deemed to be simply seeking economic opportunities.
EASO said nine percent of the 2018 figure were repeat applications.
Germany, the bloc's biggest economy, again accounted for the lion's share of asylum applications last year, at 184,180. Syrians made up for one quarter of them.
The German figure is much lower than the 476,510 lodged in 2015 and 745,155 the following year.
As in previous years, just over two thirds of all applicants were male and a third female, EASO said. Almost a third of all applicants were minors.
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton will meet Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to discuss Australia's policy of returning boats carrying asylum seekers to their origin point, the minister's spokeswoman said.
Federal judge Randolph Moss, sitting in Washington, ruled that the policy was “in excess of statutory... authority”.
The European Union will put on hold high-level talks with Ankara and negotiations on an air transport agreement, as well as freeze funding for Turkey next year, over “illegal” drilling for gas and oil off Cyprus,
President Donald Trump signed his name Wednesday on a newly constructed section of the US-Mexico border wall, calling it a “world-class security system” that will be virtually impenetrable.
Parts from the stricken plane, which was not carrying weapons and was flying from Belgium to a French base on a training mission, crashed into houses in the Morbihan region around the town of Pluvigner. No one on the ground was hurt.
"The pilot and the co-pilot were able to eject before the crash. They were both located and are alive," the office of the state representative for the region said in a statement.
"Pakistan fully supports the kingdom with all its capacities in confronting these sabotage acts," the state news agency cited him as saying during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.