Italy fears military solution to Niger crisis could foment migration

Italians evacuated from Niger arrive at Ciampino Airport, near Rome

TOLEDO, Spain (Reuters) - A military solution to the coup in Niger would be a "disaster" that could trigger a new migration crisis, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on Thursday.

The main West African bloc ECOWAS has been trying to negotiate with the coup leaders who seized power last month, but has warned it is ready to send troops into Niger to restore constitutional order if diplomatic efforts fail.

"(A) military solution (would) be a disaster," Tajani told reporters as he arrived at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in the Spanish city of Toledo. "We need to work day by day for a diplomatic solution."

The crisis in Niger is one of the main topics of the meeting, which will be addressed by Hassoumi Massoudou, the foreign minister of the ousted government, and Omar Touray, the president of the ECOWAS Commission.

Asked if he feared military intervention could lead to a migration crisis, Tajani replied: "Yes, of course. To have a war in Niger (means) more people leaving this country, as in Sudan - there are more and more people leaving Sudan."

Tajani spoke positively of an Algerian proposal this week to resolve the crisis, involving a six-month transition period led by a civilian.

(Reporting by Andrew Gray, David Latona and Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)