December 15, 2016 / 11:35 AM / 7 months ago

Tsipras calls for breakthrough to help Greece with migrants

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a parliamentary session before a budget vote in Athens, Greece, December 10, 2016.Alkis Konstantinidis/Files

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he would press fellow EU leaders at a summit on Thursday to end deadlock over plans to distribute some of the more than 60,000 asylum-seekers now in Greece.

"We have to keep solidarity and make decisions for sharing the burden and the responsibilities," he told reporters on arrival, saying also that the EU should maintain the deal with Turkey which has largely halted the flow of migrants to Greece.

"Especially for the Greek issue, I believe now is the time to have a breakthrough. I will have a chance to discuss it with a lot of colleagues. I believe we can have a breakthrough without blackmail and with respect in the sovereignty of this country."

Last year, EU states agreed to a scheme to distribute asylum-seekers around the bloc from Italy and Greece but it has been barely implemented as several countries, mainly in the ex-communist east, have refused to accept significant numbers.

Months of negotiation on how to achieve "solidarity" and "burden-sharing" on migrants have yet to produce a compromise.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; @macdonaldrtr

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