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Austria ready to 'protect' borders against migrants

Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz says his country is ready to "protect" its border with Italy.

The comments come amid growing concerns that the influx of migrants into Italy could result in a spillover into his country.

Mr Kurz spoke to the Austria Press Agency amid preparations to tighten border controls.

Defence minister Hans Peter Doskozil said his ministry is ready to deploy armoured vehicles to the Brenner border crossing between the two countries within 72 hours. Ministry spokesmen dismissed reports that the vehicles are already at the Brenner, the main crossing from Italy.

Officials say there has been no upsurge in migrant entries. But Mr Kurz said both Italy and the European Union need to know that "we are ready to protect our Brenner border if necessary".

Italy's foreign ministry summoned Austria's ambassador to the country, Rene Pollitzer, for consultations following the comments.

The ministry said it made the diplomatic move "following the declarations of the Austrian government about the lining up of troops at the Brenner Pass".

The Brenner Pass is one of the principal routes connecting Italy with northern Europe and is particularly heavily used during the summer holiday season.

Austria last year threatened to build a wall along the border with Italy, drawing similar protests from Italy.

AP

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