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France, Malta will take 50 rescued migrants each: PM

AFP  |  Rome 

and have agreed to take 50 migrants each out of 450 stranded at sea on two EU border agency vessels, Italian has said after pressing his European peers to keep their promise to share the burden.

"and will respectively take 50 migrants each... other countries will follow very quickly," said yesterday on his page.

Yesterday, and were at loggerheads again over whose responsibility it was to offer the 450 migrants on board the two EU Frontex vessels a safe harbour.

said he had spent the day in contact with his 27 EU peers, reminding them that they had agreed at their end-June summit on the need to share the burden of dealing with the migrant influx.

In a letter addressed to and EU Donald Tusk, Conte demanded others should help and not leave in the lurch.

"In this context which always sees in the frontline of saving lives at sea, I ask you for a clear sign on sharing the responsibility of managing the migrant issue and to envisage the possibility of a port taking in, or to take charge of some of the 450 migrants picked up," he said.

There was no immediate confirmation from the French.

The migrants, like thousands of others, had set sail from in a single wooden vessel which was identified early Friday while passing through waters under Malta's jurisdiction.

But Italy's far-right Matteo Salvini, who has authority over the country's ports, on Friday refused to let them dock in the latest demonstration of his no-go stance on accepting more migrants.

Silvini insisted instead that the two Frontex vessels be instructed to "south, to or Malta".

"We need an act of justice, of respect and of courage to fight against these human traffickers and generate a European intervention," he said in talks with Conte, according to reports carried by Italian agencies.

Cited by the Italian media, cabinet sources said Conte was going to push for them to be immediately transferred to other European countries, otherwise they would not be allowed to land.

In an exchange of messages, emails and phone calls on Friday, had pushed to take responsibility for those on board the wooden boat.

But Malta said the ship was much closer to the Italian island of Lampedusa, and yesterday, insisted it had respected "all of its obligations under international conventions" concerning those rescued at sea.

Last morning, as the two Frontex vessels approached the boat, several migrants threw themselves overboard, prompting immediate efforts to rescue them from the water, Italian sources said.

Eight women and children were taken to for medical treatment. The latest standoff came just hours after 67 migrants were allowed to disembark from an ship in late on Thursday.

Salvini, who took office when Italy's new populist government came to power on June 1, wants to block any further migrant arrivals by boat and has banned NGO rescue ships from docking in Italian ports, accusing them of aiding human traffickers.

Last month, the French rescue ship Aquarius and the German boat Lifeline, who between them were carrying hundreds of migrants, were forced to divert to and Malta respectively after Italy turned them away.

Italy, and have been on the front line of the migrant crisis, with deeply divided over how to share the burden of the massive influx of people seeking a new life in

Separately, Spanish rescuers saved more than 340 migrants in the yesterday.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, July 15 2018. 02:20 IST