Dutch refuse Italian request to accept 47 migrants on rescue ship-govt
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands refused on Monday an Italian request to take in 47 migrants on a humanitarian ship that is being blocked from Italian ports, saying there was a need to distinguish between genuine refugees and economic migrants. The Sea Watch 3, run by a German humanitarian group and flying a Dutch flag, rescued the migrants from a rubber boat off the Libyan coast more than a week ago. Since then it has been buffeted by high winds and 7-metre (23 ft) waves
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands refused on Monday an Italian request to take in 47 migrants on a humanitarian ship that is being blocked from Italian ports, saying there was a need to distinguish between genuine refugees and economic migrants.
The Sea Watch 3, run by a German humanitarian group and flying a Dutch flag, rescued the migrants from a rubber boat off the Libyan coast more than a week ago. Since then it has been buffeted by high winds and 7-metre (23 ft) waves.
Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, leader of the 5-Star Movement, said the ship should go either to France, which he has accused of shirking its responsibilities to the migrant influx, or to the Netherlands.
The Dutch Justice and Security Ministry, which oversees immigration policy, said it would not take in any migrants from Sea Watch until there was a long-term agreement on how to distinguish refugees from economic migrants.
"Those who are not entitled to international protection need to be sent back immediately on arrival at European borders," it said in a statement.
"Without a clear perspective for such a structural solution, the Netherlands will not participate in ad hoc measures for the disembarkation."
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's office said in a statement that Rome would refer the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, reiterating that the government had no intention of allowing the boat to dock in Italy.
It added that as soon as Dutch responsibility was ascertained, it would help open up a "human corridor" to let the migrants move to the Netherlands. Conte also promised to provide supplies and medical care if needed to the NGO boat, which is moored off the Sicilian coast.
It is the second time in a month Sea Watch has been stranded at sea with rescued migrants and no safe port. The last standoff ended after 19 days and an agreement among eight EU countries, including Italy, to take in the migrants.
The Netherlands, which took in hundreds of thousands of migrants in the 1960s and 1970s to work as labourers, has adopted one of the tightest immigration policies in Europe following a public backlash.
The Italian statement on Thursday questioned why Sea Watch had decided to brave stormy waters and head to Italy, rather than take the migrants to nearby Tunisia. "Did the Sea Watch aim to rescue people ... or to create an international incident?"
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Bart Maijer; Editing by Gareth Jones and Crispian Balmer)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.