wnol.info July 16 2018

Italy still waiting for apology from France's Macron - Deputy PM

July 16 2018, 04:35 | Irvin Gilbert

Italy France tensions spiral over rejected migrant ship

Italy France tensions spiral over rejected migrant ship

Macron and Conte also vowed to respect global maritime laws related to humanitarian aid of stranded migrants.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke with his Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell over the phone about the current European migrant crisis, and both sides urged "a broad discussion" of the hard issue at the European Union summit on June 28-29, the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

France was to have accepted a total of 19,714 migrants from Italy and Greece; in all, it accepted 4,677.

But the French foreign ministry on Thursday said it was ready to welcome migrants aboard the Aquarius who "meet the criteria for asylum" after they arrive in Spain.

According to government figures, Italy has accepted 640,000 migrants since 2014, but the number of arrivals this year is at a five-year low: 14,441 since January.

Tria's decision comes after Rome demanded an official apology from France over its comments on Italy's treatment of the Aquarius vessel that was left in limbo in the Mediterranean after saving 629 people off Libya.

This after French President Emmanuel Macron said Rome had acted with "cynicism and irresponsibility" by closing its ports to migrants.

Ropes have been strung around the ship to make it easier to walk on deck, video from the Aquarius showed.

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Italian maritime vessels that have picked up Europe-bound migrants in the Mediterranean still are entering the ports; on Wednesday, an Italian coast guard vessel docked in Catania, Sicily with 932 migrants on board.

Italy's rejection of a migrant ship is shameful but the responsibility lies with Europe as a whole, United Nations refugee chief Filippo Grandi told Reuters on Wednesday.

Aquarius had conducted the rescue operation off the coast of Libya on June 9. Calvo said minors and women were a priority, especially those who may have been trafficked or exploited in their attempts to reach Europe.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, a socialist who took office just over a week ago, gave instructions for the humanitarian vessel to be admitted to the eastern port of Valencia, his office said in a statement on Monday.

Austria's conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who gained the post in December in a coalition with the anti-migration Freedom Party, on Wednesday proposed an "axis of the willing" with Italy, Austria and Germany in an attempt to tackle illegal immigration.

The Aquarius will now dock in Valencia, which is 800 miles from where the ship had been stranded.

Italy's far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini has suggested that hundreds of migrants aboard a rescue convoy heading for Spain were on a "cruise", as an NGO condemned their plight as a symbol of the failure of the EU.

Italy's new government is demanding other countries take rescued migrants.

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