Bad weather forces rejected migrant ship's detour

Italy argues that other European countries must step in and that the ship's passengers were never in danger.

The Aquarius and two Italian ships that have taken some of the migrants are now expected to arrive in Valencia on Saturday night, weather conditions permitting, said SOS Mediterranee's co-founder Sophie Beau. The EU plan largely flopped, with only a handful of countries taking in their share.

Migrant-related issues will be at the heart of the discussions and France hopes to maintain a "close dialogue" with its neighbor, the statement says.

Salvini, who is also deputy premier and the leader of the anti-immigrant League party, called on France to apologise and said he was not prepared to take criticism from a country which regularly stopped migrants on their shared border.

"It is unacceptable that people who have literally been picked out of the water, who have seen their friends drowning, still do not get a place of safety", Johannes Bayer, the Sea-Watch chairman, said in a statement Wednesday.

But the tensions appeared to have ebbed after a telephone call Wednesday night between Macron and Conte.

In a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday evening, "the president stressed that none of his comments were meant to offend Italy and the Italian people", Macron's office said in a statement.

The tweet confirmed that Tria's meeting with German Economy Minister Olaf Scholz scheduled for Thursday would go ahead in Berlin.

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Speculation mounted still as the president's trips to the G7 meeting in Canada and summit with North Korea in Singapore fast approached.

But the French foreign ministry on Thursday said it was ready to welcome migrants aboard the Aquarius who "meet the criteria for asylum" after they arrive in Spain.

While Spain adopted a diplomatic tone with Italy when it announced it would take the migrants, relations between Rome and Paris have deteriorated in an explosion of accusations and counter-accusations. We can not guarantee that it is suitable for the visually or hearing impaired.

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".

He has repeatedly accused charities of working with human traffickers but said Italy would not stop rescuing migrant boats itself.

He also suggested preventing a second foreign-flagged search-and-rescue vessel, Sea Watch 3, operated by a group of German volunteers and now positioned off the coast of Libya, from docking.

The vessel Aquarius, operated by the aid group SOS Mediterranee, said the Italian coastguard leading the convoy has changed course to skirt Sardinia's east coast.

Aquarius had conducted the rescue operation off the coast of Libya on June 9.

  • Sonia Alvarado