Italian coastguard reroutes Aquarius migrant ship to coast of Sardinia

Italian coastguard reroutes Aquarius migrant ship to coast of Sardinia

Italian coastguard reroutes Aquarius migrant ship to coast of Sardinia

"Ships belonging to foreign organizations and flying foreign flags can not dictate Italy's immigration policy", Salvini, who also heads the anti-immigrant League party, said on Wednesday.

"Such statements are undermining relations between Italy and France", Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Italy summoned the French ambassador and reacted angrily after French government spokesman Benjamin Grivaux on Tuesday reported Macron's comments about the Aquarius situation.

"For now, we have not received any request from the Italian prime minister for an apology, nor for a possible cancellation of his visit", an Elysee official travelling with President Emmanuel Macron in western France said.

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

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that Italy was "cynical and irresponsible" over the migrant vessel which had been left stranded in the Mediterranean after Italy and Malta refused to grant it permission to dock.

The plight of the Aquarius rescue ship has shone a light on the failure of European Union members to band together in the face of an unprecedented influx of migrants arriving across the Mediterranean since 2015.

On Wednesday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz hailed cooperation between the hardline interior ministers of Austria, Germany and Italy on the question of migrants.

Tensions flared between Malta and Italy earlier this week after the new populist government in Rome refused to allow Aquarius to dock in any of its ports.

A U.S. Navy vessel is waiting to learn where it can disembark 40 migrants who survived a capsizing off Libya.

For 629 migrants on board a ship in the Mediterranean Sea, this weekend could mark the end of an global controversy over their final destination.

Grandi said closing ports wrongly threatens "rescue at sea" - a requirement under global law - but said Italy's reasoning was "something that we need to listen to".

While Italy has taken much of the flak over the Aquarius, Macron has come in for criticism at home - for remaining silent for two days while the ship was adrift and then laying the blame exclusively at Italy's feet.

On Sunday, Italy's new anti-migrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, blocked the ship from docking in Sicily, saying Italy had already taken in enough migrants - 640,000 over the last five years.

But on Thursday, huge waves and strong winds forced the convoy, carrying 629 rescued migrants, to take a detour along the coast of the Italian island of Sardinia.

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