Italy summons French ambassador due to diplomatic spat over handling of Aquarius ship carrying migrants

Rome: Italy's foreign ministry said it had summoned the French Ambassador on Wednesday amid a diplomatic spat between the two countries over the handling of a migrant crisis.

File image of French president Emmanuel Macron. AP

File image of French president Emmanuel Macron. AP

On Tuesday, French president Emmanuel Macron accused Italy of "irresponsibility" after the Rome government refused to open its ports to the NGO Aquarius ship carrying hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean.

Italy's new populist government was quick to respond to the accusations denouncing "hypocritical lessons" from countries like France on migrants. "The statements concerning (the humanitarian ship) Aquarius that come from France are surprising... Italy cannot accept hypocritical lessons from countries that have preferred to look the other way on immigration," the government said in a statement on Tuesday.

The 629 migrants saved by the Aquarius, run by French NGO SOS Mediterranee, were stuck on the overcrowded ship for over 30 hours as Italy and Malta bickered over who should take them before Spain offered to receive them in its port of Valencia.

The French ambassador Christian Masset is due to be received at the Italian foreign ministry, according to a diplomatic source.


Updated Date: Jun 13, 2018 16:23 PM

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