France, Italy leaders meet Friday amid clash over migration

UN:

Migrants rest on the deck of MV Aquarius, a search and rescue ship run in partnership between SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres on their way to Spain, June 13, 2018.

This comes amid a growing diplomatic row between Italy and France over the new Italian government's refusal to allow a French rescue boat to dock.

The Spanish government says it is expecting ships carrying 630 migrants to arrive in the port of Valencia on Sunday morning after bad weather forced the convoy to take a detour.

Italy's argument with France came after Macron on Tuesday blasted what he called Italy's cynicism and irresponsibility in turning away the Aquarius.

But Italy's foreign minister, Enzo Moavero, kept up the barrage by telling a French envoy that Macron's comments were "unjustifiable" and had compromised bilateral relations.

But the talks were delayed as both countries traded barbs over the fate of more than 600 migrants rescued off the Libyan coast on the weekend.

Mr Di Maio, the head of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, said in a radio interview: "We're waiting for an apology".

Salvini also accused France of having turned back 10,249 migrants at Italy's northern border since January, "including women, children and disabled people". The Aquarius was heading for Spain on Wednesday.


Spain offered safe harbour in Valencia after Italy, which wants other European Union countries to accept more migrants, refused to do so.

The French government was more conciliatory Wednesday, when the Foreign Ministry said France recognized the burden Italy has carried.

More than 1.8 million migrants have entered Europe since 2014, and Italy is now sheltering more than 170,000 asylum seekers, as well as an estimated 500,000 unregistered migrants. He declared his support for Kurz's proposal for a three-way "axis of the willing" with Italy to fight illegal migration.

The French president's office said France didn't want to "start a precedent" that would allow some European countries to breach global laws and rely on other EU member states to take in migrants.

Despite criticism from the pope and the United Nations refugee agency, which called the treatment of the migrants on the Aquarius "shameful", Salvini has not changed his position.

Under EU rules, migrants must apply for asylum in the European country where they first arrive.

Salvini has accused charities that rescue migrants of working with human traffickers but said Italy would not stop rescuing migrant boats itself.

An Italian coast guard vessel has docked in Sicily with more than 900 migrants aboard, evidence that Italy's new anti-migrant government is still taking in some asylum-seekers but is forcing the rest of Europe to accept others.

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