US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) greets EU High Representative Federica Mogherini at the State Department on April 29, 2014 in Washington, DC
Washington (AFP) - The European Union has a duty to confront the flood of migrants reaching its shores, the EU's foreign policy chief said Wednesday as she met top US officials seeking ways to deal with the exodus.
Some 1,750 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe this year, 30 times more than during the same period in 2014.
"We know as Europeans we are living in one of the most complicated and dangerous places in the world today," EU high representative Federica Mogherini said ahead of talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
"We know we have a special responsibility in trying to prevent and face this crisis."
The EU, US and African Union could work together "on saving lives of desperate people that are looking for a better future, fighting against trafficking (and) smuggling of people across the Mediterranean," Mogherini said.
Mogherini, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met Monday on a ship off Italy in a show of "solidarity" for migrants just over a week after more than 750 people drowned off the Libyan coast.
In the wake of the Mediterranean's worst migrant shipwreck, Mogherini has planned a string of meetings, citing "the need for a common effort to address the issue of migration, from tackling root causes to facing the emergencies."
One of the major problems has been the lack of governance in Libya, allowing people-smuggling gangs to flourish.
Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, and two opposing governments and parliaments and armed groups are battling to control its cities and oil wealth.
The unrest has sent hordes of people to try to undertake the journey to Europe on overloaded vessels, many of which have floundered, causing thousands to perish at sea.
Britain and France are set to demand a UN Security Council resolution to take action in Libyan territorial waters.
"We are working together on Libya, which is at a critical moment where we believe that diplomacy is really being put to the test," Kerry said.
He welcomed Mogherini's push for a UN mandate to "provide the stability that the people of Libya deserve and that the region needs in significant ways right now."
The two diplomats were also set to discuss Ukraine and the EU and US sanctions regime imposed against Moscow accused of fueling the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Russia faces "a critical moment" in ensuring that it adheres to the terms of a ceasefire deal, Kerry said, stressing that decisions had to be made soon on whether to continue the sanctions.