TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The plan appears to have fairly broad support in an EU now bitterly split over immigration policy, although countries have yet to settle on the details.
Europe's migration crisis, which peaked with the arrival of more than 1 million asylum seekers in 2015, has been tapering off with arrivals falling to the tens of thousands so far this year. But the issue has taken on new political urgency in recent weeks as anti-immigrant parties make their influence felt.
A new government in Italy is refusing to allow charities that rescue migrants at sea to dock ships on its shores, and migration policy has threatened to divide Angela Merkel's ruling coalition in Germany.
EU leaders will hold a summit later this week to discuss more measures to curb arrival numbers, including by tightening external borders and giving more aid to countries from Turkey to Libya to help them prevent people from setting sail for Europe.
One new idea is for "regional disembarkation platforms" where the EU would take in people saved from boats crossing the Mediterranean, assess their asylum requests and hold those whose applications fail before they are sent back.
Various EU states have expressed differing opinions of what such centers could comprise. France has said Italy could host them; Italy wants them to sit in Africa.
A similar plan for "Africa hot spots" proposed two years ago by one of Europe's most hardline anti-immigrant leaders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was widely criticized as potentially violating rights of those who attempt the crossing.
The initiative still poses legal, security and rights challenges but EU leaders now want the two U.N. bodies - the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - to make a proposal and run such sites in the future with EU money.
Before EU leaders meet over migration in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, UNHCR chief Filipo Grandi said in a letter he wanted to discuss with them "new collaborative arrangements, within and outside the EU".
"UNHCR is currently preparing a proposal in this respect, together with the International Organization for Migration, which we will share with you shortly," Grandi said in his letter, dated June 18 and seen by Reuters on Tuesday.
The IOM and UNHCR did not immediately reply to request for comment.