EU, Turkey's president Erdogan, to thrash out plan to help Ankara cope with refugees

Leaders from the European Union and Turkey will fine-tune a plan Monday to help Ankara cope better with refugees from Syria and Iraq and limit the flow of people leaving to Europe.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was arriving in Brussels for talks with European Council President Donald Tusk, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Parliament President Martin Schulz.

The EU wants to "have a contract of mutual confidence that is necessary, given the central role Turkey has played in the refugee crisis," European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

Turkey hosts around 2 million refugees, many from Syria and Iraq.

Tens of thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty have been crossing from Turkey into Greece in the hope of finding better lives in Europe, and the EU wants Ankara to do more to stop them setting out.

The European Commission hopes to generate around 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) in European funds to help lessen the impact of refugee arrivals on Turkey, which is a candidate for EU membership. A commission team was also due in Turkey later Monday to assess cooperation on the ground.

In France on Sunday, Erdogan accused European nations of "confining refugees into the depth of the Mediterranean" in a reference to refugees who drown trying to reach Europe.

He was speaking at a rally in Strasbourg attended by hundreds of Turks, before Turkey's Nov. 1 elections. The speech was televised live in Turkey.

Critics accuse Erdogan of organizing rallies in Turkey and Europe to drum up votes for the ruling Justice and Development Party, in breach of laws that require him to be neutral.