France's Macron looks for common ground with Italy on immigration debate

France's Macron looks for common ground with Italy on immigration debate

The Trenton had asked the nearby humanitarian rescue ship Sea Watch-3 to take the migrants, but Sea Watch declined unless Italy assigned it a nearby port to dock.

The ship is now sailing to Valencia in Spain.

Conte, who heads the populist, anti-EU government that took over running Italy on June 1, echoed the politician he called "my friend Emmanuel".

"I would like an axis of the willing that includes all the European countries", he said.

In a further gesture of reconciliation, the French foreign ministry said it was ready to welcome migrants on board Aquarius who "meet the criteria for asylum" after they arrive in Spain.

"It's very clear that Europe needs to reform its asylum system in a collective manner; there's a lot of resistance to that, but there's no other way", Grandi said.

"Italy has a head of government, France has a head of state, Germany has a head of government".

While the two leaders were engaged, Italy's foreign minister met with his Maltese counterpart.

The question that overflew entire meeting - a luncheon that was about to be cancelled over Aquarius issue and lasted for more than two hours - was wher Conte, who expressed his conciliatory will and a speech even European, or Salvini, are true interlocutor Italian.

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Gabriel Attal, the spokesman for Macron's party, called Italy's actions "nauseating".

The border crossing point at Ventimiglia has been the scene of protests and desperation for years as France refused to let in migrants, many of them seeking to reach family in France or Germany.

Toninelli said Italy is now waiting for a "strong sign" from the European Union that it will help Italy manage the large number of migrants who arrive in the country after attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Rome says only migrants rescued by Italian ships can be brought to Italian ports.

Many critics agreed that Macron was hardly in a position to lecture, saying France has accepted far fewer migrants than other European Union countries, and its border police routinely send back migrants trying to cross into the country from Italy. In a statement, the sixth fleet said the US ship, the Trenton, was "coordinating" with authorities.

Italy itself appeared eager to avoid too harsh a response, with a coast guard ship carrying over 900 migrants landing on Sicily on Wednesday.

"The president stressed that none of his comments were meant to offend Italy and the Italian people", Macron's office said in a statement, adding that Friday's lunch meeting with Conte would go ahead as planned.

The pope made the comments Friday during an audience with Italian workers.

Italy on Saturday demanded that the Netherlands recall two Dutch-flagged migrant rescue ships after one of the non-government organizations that operate them called the interior minister a fascist. In practice, this has placed a heavy burden on Italy and Greece, where hundreds of thousands of people have entered in recent years.

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