Italy threat­ens to can­cel Conte-macron meet un­less France apol­o­gizes

Iran Daily - - International -

Italy’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvini said Wed­nes­day that with­out an “of­fi­cial apol­ogy” from France, a planned meet­ing be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Giuseppe Conte and French Pres­i­dent Emmanuel Macron on Fri­day should be can­celed.

“If an of­fi­cial apol­ogy doesn’t ar­rive, Prime Min­is­ter Conte would be right not to go to France,” Salvini told re­porters af­ter de­mand­ing that France take in more mi­grants, AFP re­ported.

Macron had blasted Italy for its “cyn­i­cism and ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity” in re­fus­ing to wel­come 629 mi­grants left stranded on a French char­ity’s res­cue ship in the Mediter­ranean be­fore Spain agreed to take them in.

Gabriel At­tal, the spokesman for Macron’s party, called Italy’s ac­tions “nau­se­at­ing”.

Italy’s For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Enzo Moavero Mi­lanesi sum­moned the French ambassador to Rome over the com­ments on Wed­nes­day, say­ing in a state­ment that “the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers un­ac­cept­able the words pub­licly pro­nounced yes­ter­day in Paris”.

Mi­lanesi added that the com­ments made by France were “com­pro­mis­ing re­la­tions be­tween Italy and France”.

France’s For­eign Min­istry re­sponded by say­ing that it is “per­fectly aware” of the pres­sure on Italy as it copes with an in­flux of mi­grants from Africa, adding it is “com­mit­ted to co­op­er­a­tion and di­a­logue” with Rome.

Salvini’s far-right League party cam­paigned on tak­ing a hard line on mi­grants ahead of March’s elec­tion and rose to power as part Italy’s euroscep­tic, pop­ulist gov­ern­ment that took of­fice this month.

Also on Wed­nes­day, Aus­trian Chan­cel­lor Se­bas­tian Kurz said that the hard­line in­te­rior min­is­ters of Aus­tria, Ger­many and Italy have formed an “axis of the will­ing” to com­bat il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion into the EU.

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

The Di­ciotti ship ar­rived at the port of Cata­nia and the mi­grants be­gan to dis­em­bark, an AFP pho­tog­ra­pher saw.

They were saved dur­ing sev­eral res­cue oper­a­tions off the coast of Libya. An of­fi­cial in the Cata­nia coast­guard said there were more than 900 mi­grants.

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

That has put pres­sure on Italy and Greece, the en­try points for the hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple flee­ing war and poverty.

GIO­VANNI ISOLINO/AFP Red Cross work­ers ex­am­ined the res­cued mi­grants who dis­em­barked in Si­cily from the Ital­ian Coast­guard ves­sel Di­ciotti.

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