Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Italy summons French envoy as migration dispute escalates


"If an official apology doesn't arrive, Prime Minister Conte would be right not to go to France", Salvini told reporters.

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

The office of Finance Minister Giovanni Tria confirmed Wednesday's meeting with Bruno Le Maire had been scrapped.

"The statements concerning Aquarius from France are surprising", the Italian Council stressed, adding that Rome won't tolerate receiving "hypocritical lessons from countries that preferred to divert the head "on the migrant crisis".

France tried to take a more conciliatory tone on Wednesday.

France is "perfectly aware" of the pressure on Italy as it copes with an influx of migrants from Africa, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

The migrants aboard the Aquarius, run by French NGO SOS Mediterranee, were stuck on the overloaded ship as Italy and Malta bickered over who should take them.

It would also represent a complete reversal of the open-doors migrant policy she adopted in 2015, which saw more than 1 million migrants enter Germany and is seen as having fuelled a sharp rise in support for the rightwing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and caused deep rifts within her conservative bloc. "We hope this meeting can take place very soon".

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Ms Merkel spoke after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a top CSU leader, called for Germany to ally itself with Austria, governed by a right-wing coalition, and Italy on migration and security policies.

"We believe an axis of the willing is needed to fight illegal migration".

Seehofer has put himself on a collision course with Merkel, his coalition ally, by pushing a tougher line on immigration, including a proposal as part of a new draft national "migrant masterplan" that Germany should turn away at the border migrants registered in other European Union states.

"So I ask President Macron to pass from words to action and tomorrow morning welcome the 9,000 France promised to welcome as a sign of concrete generosity and not just words", Salvini said to applause in the Senate chamber. Justice Minister Dolores Delgado said that Italy may have violated global humanitarian law, while Ximo Puig, president of the Valencia region, commented: "Turning this into a political weapon is despicable.it is clear that Europe must act more wisely, but we can not let these people die at sea".

In his speech, Salvini shot back and said France had turned back 10,249 migrants at Italy's northern border since January "including women, children and disabled people".

They were saved during several rescue operations off the coast of Libya. "The coastguard and navy can continue to save lives, but other countries need to keep giving us a hand", he said.

Meanwhile, an Italian coastguard ship carrying more than 900 migrants was allowed to dock in Sicily on Wednesday.

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