Migrants: detente Italy-France - Conte in Paris Friday

No offensive statements, Macron. Aquarius in Spain on Sunday

14 June, 16:37

    ROME - After tension yesterday between Italy and France on the migration dossier, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte had a long and cordial phone call overnight and the Italian prime minister's planned visit to Paris Friday has been confirmed.
    Conte will visit Paris on Friday and have lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron, the Italia government said Thursday after the phone conversation overnight.
    The planned visit had looked in danger of being scrubbed after Macron spoke of cynicism and irresponsibility over Rome's refusal to let the migrant-rescue ship Aquarius dock in an Italian port at the weekend.
    Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demanded an apology and said Conte would be right to cancel the visit unless this was forthcoming. During the phone call, Macron ''stressed that he never said any expression aimed at offending Italy and the Italian people,'' said a statement by the Italian premier's office. ''The president of the (French) republic recalled that he has always defended the need for greater European solidarity towards Italy''.
    The statement continued saying that the French president and Italian premier confirmed that France and Italy have pledged to participate in rescue efforts ''in the framework of humanitarian protection rules for people in danger''.
    ''Italy and France must deepen bilateral and European cooperation for an effective migratory policy with the countries of origin and of transit, via better European management of the frontier and a mechanism of solidarity in taking responsibility of refugees'', read the statement from the Italian premier's office.
    ''Macron and Conte agreed that, in view of the European Council at the end of June, new initiatives to discuss together are needed.
    ''To evoke these issues and the many dossiers of common interest, the (French) president and Prime Minister Conte will meet in Paris on Friday for a working lunch followed by a press conference''.
    Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero said ''it is up to France to have a more courteous tone in statements'' on the migration dossier, speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony for the anniversary of the Fullbright Commission.
    He also said the issues at stake need to be discussed within European institutions.
    Meanwhile, due to bad weather conditions, the Aquarius has had to change route, SOS Mediterranee, the NGO that operates the migrant-rescue ship, said on Thursday. ''#Dattilo, the leading Italian coastguard ship of our convoy, decided to change route,'' SOS Mediterranee said via Twitter.
    ''#Aquarius will proceed along the eastern coast of #Sardinia to seek shelter from bad weather, otherwise unbearable for the rescued people, already exhausted, shocked and seasick''.
    The Aquarius was on its way to Valencia with an escort of two Italian ships after the Italian government denied it access to its ports at the weekend in a case that has caused political tension in Europe.
    Most of the over 600 migrants who are on board the Aquarius have been transferred to the escort vessels. The ship is expected to arrive in Valencia on Sunday.

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