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Migrant ship row escalates as Italy stands firm

Migrant ship row escalates as Italy stands firm

Macron said "who is seeking provocation?"

"One should never give in to the emotion, which is manipulated by some people", Macron told reporters, according to BFMTV broadcaster. Catania was obliged to accept migrants rescued by the Italian Navy, as opposed to an NGO-operated ship.

Grandi applauded Spain for agreeing to take the ship but noted that Italy had borne the greatest burden of migrants arriving from Libya over the past few years.

France criticized the Italy for rejecting the Aquarius on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Salvini insisted Tuesday that the country's ports would no longer be open to foreign boats carrying migrants.

But the talks were delayed as both countries traded barbs over the fate of more than 600 migrants rescued off the Libyan coast on the weekend.

Salvini's League scored its best-ever result in March national elections, partly on pledges to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants and halt the flow of newcomers, and has formed a coalition with the anti-system 5-Star Movement.

More than 1.8 million people have entered Europe irregularly since 2014 and Italy is now sheltering some 170,000 asylum seekers.

France tried to take a more conciliatory tone on Wednesday.

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Ryan also shot a careful retort at Trump's assertion this week that, as president, he is entitled to pardon himself should Mueller's probe unearth evidence of crimes.

Italy summoned the French ambassador for consultations, canceled a planned meeting between finance ministers and warned that diplomatic relations had been compromised.

Macron and new Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte were scheduled to meet in Paris on Friday, but Italian news agency ANSA said Wednesday the meeting might be postponed because the conditions weren't right.

On Wednesday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz hailed the hardline stance on immigration taken by the interior ministers of his country, Italy and Germany - whose interior minister is openly feuding with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the issue.

Grandi said closing ports wrongly threatens "rescue at sea" - a requirement under worldwide law - but said Italy's reasoning was "something that we need to listen to".

He said the charity acknowledged Spain's solidarity but stressed that heading there was not their decision.

Asked whether he thought the row was over, he said: "I very much think so, yes".

Meanwhile, European neighbours Italy and France tried to resolve their dispute as Pope Francis urged politicians everywhere to work together on helping refugees and respect their dignity.

The asylum seekers remained stranded on the Aquarius vessel, run by French NGO SOS Mediterranee, while Italy and Malta bickered over who should accept them.

However, the Sea Watch is still waiting to pick them up, asking for a written guarantee that it will be allowed to dock in an Italian port.

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