Two Italian naval vessels are escorting the ship to Spain after the Socialist government of new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered the Aquarius safe harbor Monday.
Whilehuman tragedy continues with rising numbers of refugees waiting at the borders, Italy escalated its standoff with France over migration, challenging Paris to take in more asylum-seekers and demanding an apology after the French president accused the new populist Italian government of cynical, irresponsible behavior by refusing entry to a rescue ship with some 629 people aboard. After turning the Aquarius away, it allowed a coast guard ship carrying over 900 migrants land on Sicily on Wednesday.
Standing alongside Macron, Conte said it was "time to turn the page" on the diplomatic tensions over the ship and to tackle the larger migration quagmire. "On pressing issues such as the June 28-29 European Council meeting and Libya, Italy and France have rather different positions and it is doubtful they can be reconciled in the short-run".
"Ships belonging to foreign organisations and flying foreign flags can not dictate Italy's immigration policy", Salvini, who also heads the anti-immigrant League party, said on Wednesday.
Earlier this week Salvini joined forces with the German and Austrian foreign ministers in an "axis of the willing" to combat illegal immigration. Mr. Juncker said on French TV recently. "He who puts his feet in Italy puts his feet in Europe", said Mr Conte, who was a law professor before he became premier.
Macron also told Conte that he remained a supporter of greater European efforts to share the burden faced by Italy and other frontline states in dealing with migrant arrivals by sea.
Rome also summoned the French ambassador over the dispute - the second time it has done so over the migrant crisis in two months. "From the start of my mandate I have wanted to collaborate with Italy", Macron said, according to BFM-TV. Malta refused, saying it wasn't involved in the rescue.
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Italy has received more than 700,000 migrants and refugees since 2013. In a statement, the sixth fleet said the US ship, the Trenton, was "coordinating" with authorities.
Salvini replied angrily. "We have nothing to learn from anyone's solidarity, generosity and volunteerism", he said. and threatened to suspend planned meeting between Macron and Conte if French president did not apologize.
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.
The pope made the comments Friday during an audience with Italian workers.
Under the EU's asylum laws - now the subject of revision amid a major political dispute - migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter Europe.
Yet there are few signs that European leaders are anywhere near being ready to formulate a common response to the hundreds of people arriving daily - mainly on the coasts of Italy and Greece.