Spain’s foreign minister revealed that US President Donald Trump suggested building a wall along the Sahara desert to stem the arrival of migrants, as he plans to do on the Mexican border.
Josep Borrell told a lunchtime gathering this week, according to a video released by Spanish media: “Closing ports is not a solution, and neither is building a wall along the Sahara like President Trump suggested to me recently.”
“‘Just build a wall that borders the Sahara’,” he quoted Trump as telling him.
“‘But do you know how big the Sahara is?’,” the minister apparently responded.
He did not give any further details.
The reported comments come as EU leaders are locked in talks in Salzburg over how to deal with the number of migrants arriving in Europe.
Spain is at the frontline of this issue, having overtaken Italy to become the number one point of entry for migrants coming to Europe by sea or by land from Africa.
Many of these cross the Sahara to Morocco and on to Spain across the Mediterranean or over two high fences into the Spanish overseas territories of Ceuta and Melilla in northern Morocco.
Trump’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border, which spans 3,200 kilometres, could cost up to $20 billion according to some estimates.
The Sahara desert, meanwhile, spans all of northern Africa from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, and a hypothetical wall would be close to 5,000 kilometres.