Italy threatens to CANCEL Macron meeting as tensions SOAR in immigration clash

UN Demands Brussels Ignore ‘Resistance’ to Mass Migration Share Unlimited Arrivals Across Bloc			Getty Images		14 Jun 2018

UN Demands Brussels Ignore ‘Resistance’ to Mass Migration Share Unlimited Arrivals Across Bloc Getty Images 14 Jun 2018

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told Wednesday's Corriere Della Sera newspaper that ships belonging to foreign organisations and flying foreign flags could not dictate Italy's immigration policy.

Salvini, who is also deputy premier and the leader of the anti-immigrant League party, called on France to apologise and said he was not prepared to take criticism from a country which regularly stopped migrants on their shared border.

France said it has received no formal request from Italy for an apology, and that it believed the planned meeting between Macron and Conte would go ahead.

The migrants saved by the Aquarius, run by French NGO SOS Méditerranée, were stuck on the overloaded ship for over 30 hours as Italy and Malta bickered over who should take them, before Spain stepped in and offered the port in Valencia as a place for the migrants to land in Europe.

Under EU rules, migrants must apply for asylum in the European country where they first arrive.

More than 1.8 million have entered Europe since 2014, and Italy is now sheltering more than 170,000 asylum seekers, as well as an estimated half-million unregistered migrants.

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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.

Tria was due to meet French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in Paris later on Wednesday.

Italy's Foreign Ministry in Rome, where the French ambassador was summoned after a diplomatic spat over a stranded migrant ship.

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

"I fear a major tragedy if states start refusing to accept rescued migrants", director general William Lacy Swing said.

"The same can not be said of France, which has often adopted much more rigid and cynical immigration policies".

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The chancellor said migration represented a significant challenge for Europe when it was in a "very fragile situation".

But there was also criticism from Spain, despite its gesture of solidarity.

The German chancellor, who is working to pull together a Europe-wide deal on redistributing asylum seekers and find a more lasting solution to illegal migration involving enhanced controls along the European Union's external border, has dismissed the plan as in breach of EU law.

As EU politicians have dithered or traded blame, refugees have continued to arrive. Meanwhile, an Italian coast guard ship with more than 900 migrants on board has docked this morning in the Sicilian port of Catania.

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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