Ital­ian fury over mi­grant spat

Irish Independent - - World News - Rory Mul­hol­land

EM­MANUEL Macron, the French pres­i­dent, has sought to end a bit­ter diplo­matic dis­pute with Italy, say­ing he never meant to cause of­fence by ac­cus­ing Rome of “cyn­i­cism and ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity” when it re­fused to take in a ship car­ry­ing hun­dreds of mi­grants.

Italy de­manded an apol­ogy af­ter Mr Macron be­rated the coun­try’s new pop­ulist gov­ern­ment for clos­ing its ports to the Aquar­ius, a ship run by a French char­ity which had res­cued 629 mi­grants in the Mediter­ranean. They are now on the way to Spain, af­ter the coun­try’s So­cial­ist gov­ern­ment of­fered to take in the sur­vivors.

Pope Fran­cis has mean­while weighed into the row, re­buk­ing politi­cians for not re­spect­ing the dig­nity of mi­grants and de­mand­ing “a change in mind­set”.

Mr Macron’s apol­ogy came af­ter a tele­phone call be­tween Mr Macron and Giuseppe Conte, the new prime min­is­ter of Italy, dur­ing which they dis­cussed the plight of the Aquar­ius.

His of­fice said: “The pres­i­dent stressed that none of his com­ments was in­tended to of­fend Italy and the Ital­ian peo­ple.”

A meet­ing in Paris be­tween the two lead­ers will go ahead to­day, de­spite ear­lier threats to call it off if Mr Macron did not make amends for his crit­i­cism of Italy’s dra­matic bid to force its Eu­ro­pean part­ners to bet­ter share the bur­den of on­go­ing mass ar­rivals of mi­grants.

Bad weather yes­ter­day forced the Aquar­ius to change course, de­lay­ing its es­ti­mated ar­rival into Va­len­cia un­til to­mor­row night or Sunday morn­ing.

NGO work­ers raised con­cerns about the im­pact of the gru­elling voyage of those on board the three boats, among whom are seven preg­nant women, 123 un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors, and many peo­ple suf­fer­ing from de­hy­dra­tion, ex­po­sure or chem­i­cal burns. (© Daily Tele­graph, Lon­don)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.