Italy still waiting for apology from France's Macron: deputy PM

UN Demands Brussels Ignore ‘Resistance’ to Mass Migration Share Unlimited Arrivals Across Bloc			Getty Images		14 Jun 2018

The spat between France and Italy emerged earlier this week after Italy refused to accept hundreds of undocumented migrants rescued at sea, prompting President Macron to blast Rome's migrations policies.

Italy's new economy minister Giovanni Tria had been due to meet his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire in Paris Wednesday afternoon.

With several days' sailing to go before they reach the Spanish coast, worsening weather and many onboard suffering from sea sickness, the Italian coastguard ship leading the convoy chose to direct the boats closer to land.

SOS Mediterranee, the aid group that operates the Aquarius, said Thursday the Italian coast guard boat leading the convoy made a decision to skirt Sardinia's east coast after high waves caused exhausted migrants aboard to be seasick.

Italian far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had posted on Facebook, "VICTORY!"

The number of migrants arriving in Italy began plummeting previous year after the Italian government under the centre-left Democratic Party negotiated controversial deals with Libya that beefed up its capacity to better patrol its coasts and discouraged land-based smugglers.

The MEP also defended the approach of the sitting Italian minister of the interior, who denounced the "hypocrisy" of the French government, whose border with Italy is closed, in order to prevent migrants from crossing the Alps to reach France.

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said the arrival of the migrants will be staggered, with a few hours in between the three ships, in order to allow the best medical, psychological and legal assistance by authorities and aid groups. It was carrying 629 migrants and is now heading to Spain, which offered safe harbour, escorted by two Italian ships.

The port of Valencia is some 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) from where the vessel had been on standby.

France and Italy traded insults, rifts widened in Germany's ruling coalition and Austria called for an "axis of the willing" to take action as a simmering row over how Europe should handle irregular migration finally boiled over.

Still at sea were 41 migrants rescued Tuesday by the U.S. Navy vessel Trenton, which was in the Mediterranean for what the U.S. 6th Fleet said was a routine operation.

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

The Elysee said in a statement Thursday that Macron and Conte spoke by phone on Wednesday amid an escalating clash between the two countries over migration. However, the source added that Macron was not "taking back anything".

Under the EU's asylum laws - now the subject of a major political dispute and under revision - migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter Europe.

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