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We're not singling out Poles - PM

David Cameron has sought to reassure his Polish counterpart that he was not singling out immigrants from his country for criticism over abuse of the UK's benefits system.

In telephone call with Polish prime minister Donald Tusk, Mr Cameron insisted concern over the impact of migration flows on the benefits systems of EU member states was a "pan EU issue" with implications for all member states.

Mr Cameron was forced to intercede after Mr Tusk reacted angrily to remarks he made in a weekend television interview in which he said that Polish migrants in Britain should not be able to claim child benefit for their families back home.

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Tusk warned that he would block moves by Mr Cameron to overhaul EU benefit rules if they were to " stigmatise any particular national minority".

He said: "Nobody has the right to single out Poles as a particular group that abuses or exploits something."

According to the Downing Street read-out of the conversation, Mr Cameron reiterated his view that Britain should not have allowed Polish migrants unfettered access to the UK labour market in 2004, but said that all member states now had an interest in engaging with the issue.

"On EU free movement, the Prime Minister made clear his long-standing view, reiterated in recent days, that the lack of transitional controls for new EU member states in 2004 was the wrong approach and had put pressure on local communities; and that we need to address the impact on countries' benefits systems, including for example paying child benefit to families living abroad," a No 10 spokesman said.

"The PM emphasised that this was a pan-EU issue relevant to all member states and people should engage with the substance of the PM's proposals. Moving forward, they agreed to hold further bilateral discussions on how the UK and Poland can work together to better manage the impact of intra-EU migration on social security systems."

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