Italy summons French envoy as migration row escalates

Malta supplies

It coincided with growing tensions in Europe over Italy's refusal to let a migrant rescue ship dock, forcing other European countries to take them in.

Italian media said the fates of the two ships was evidence of the policy shift by Italy's new populist government: refuse entry to rescue ships of European-flagged aid groups, but allow Italian maritime vessels in its ports.

Salvini said France had taken in only a fraction of the 9,816 migrants it had pledged to welcome under a 2015 European Union relocation plan to relieve frontline countries Italy and Greece of the burden of caring for newly arrived migrants.

Macron and Conte "confirmed the commitment of France and Italy to organising rescues within the rules on the humanitarian protection of people in danger", the statement said in reference to migrants making the unsafe Mediterranean crossing from Libya.

France said it has received no formal request from Italy for an apology, and that it believed the planned meeting between Macron and Conte would go ahead.

Macron initially did not respond to questions on the issue, but later told reporters: "We must never give in to emotions, which some people manipulate".

SOS Mediterranee and Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), co-operating the Aquarius, are both well-known French charities.

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In televised remarks from Valencia, where Calvo was co-ordinating preparations for the arrival, the deputy prime minister said authorities will examine case by case if the migrants qualify for asylum according to the country's regulations.

Salvini has vowed to continue to block foreign humanitarian boats from Italian ports as Europe wrestles with how to share the responsibility of handling migrants trying to enter the European Union from war zones and poor countries, largely across Africa and the Middle East.

Grandi applauded Spain for agreeing to take the ship but noted that Italy had borne the greatest burden of migrants arriving from Libya over the past few years. Salvini's League scored its best election result in March elections after pledging to deport an additional estimated 500,000 unregistered migrants.

France tried to take a more conciliatory tone on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, France said Wednesday it regretted Tria's decision to cancel the meeting and remained "committed to cooperation and dialogue" with Rome.

Italy's foreign ministry on Wednesday said it had summoned the French ambassador amid a diplomatic spat between the two countries over the handling of a migrant crisis. Spain finally granted the boat permission to dock in Valencia.

Pope Francis has called for a "change in mindset" on migration policies, saying global cooperation was vital, as Italy and France engaged in a diplomatic spat over the issue.

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