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article imageItaly minister urges France to take in more migrants

By AFP     Jun 13, 2018 in World

Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini accused France on Wednesday of failing to fulfil its commitments on receiving migrants, urging it to show "generosity" and take in more.

Italy's new populist government -- which driven by Salvini has taken a hardline stance on immigration -- came under fire from its EU neighbours after refusing to let a foreign charity boat carrying 629 migrants dock in Italy.

The migrants aboard the Aquarius, run by French charity SOS Mediterranee, were stuck on the overloaded ship for over 30 hours as Italy and Malta bickered over who should take them.

Spain then stepped in and offered the port of Valencia as a place for the migrants to land in Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron blasted Italy for its "irresponsibility" while Gabriel Attal, the spokesman for Macron's party, called Italy's actions "nauseating".

In a speech to the Senate, Salvini responded by saying that France had only taken in 640 of the 9,816 migrants it had promised to take from Italy.

He demanded that France move from "words to action and offer a sign of generosity" by taking more in.

He also said that in the five months to the end of May this year France had sent back to Italy 10,249 migrants who had crossed their common border.

Salvini said he hoped "for an official apology as soon as possible" from France.

"Our history of solidarity, humanity and welcoming spirit does not deserve to be criticised by members of the French government."

Salvini, leader of the nationalist League and an ally of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, was speaking to senators shortly after the Italian foreign ministry summoned the French ambassador to Rome, Christian Masset, to discuss the row.

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