Migration dispute escalates between France and Italy

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"The statements concerning Aquarius from France are surprising", the Italian Council stressed, adding that Rome won't tolerate receiving "hypocritical lessons from countries that preferred to divert the head "on the migrant crisis".

Speaking to the Senate Wednesday, Salvini accused France of only welcoming 640 of the 9,816 migrants it had promised to take from Italy.

Matteo Salvini accused France of turning back 10,000 migrants on its border with Italy.

The refusal to allow the ship to dock has been branded "shameful" by the United Nations refugee agency's chief Filippo Grandi, an Italian national.

A migrant receives clothes from a staff member on the MV Aquarius, a search and rescue ship run in partnership between SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres on their way to Spain, June 13, 2018.

Meanwhile, an Italian coastguard ship carrying more than 900 migrants was allowed to dock in Sicily on Wednesday.

The Diciotti ship arrived at the port of Catania and the migrants began to disembark, an AFP photographer saw.

Salvini has accused European aid groups of essentially operating taxi services for Libya-based human traffickers, and has said Italy will now refuse them entry.

Italy postponed high-level talks with France Wednesday after Paris blasted Rome for its "nauseating" refusal to take in a migrant rescue ship, in a major diplomatic spat. Macron's office said Tuesday that France doesn't want to "start a precedent" that would allow some European countries to breach worldwide laws and rely on other EU member states to take in migrants.

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"If an official apology doesn't arrive, Prime Minister Conte would be right not to go to France", Salvini told reporters.

A Dutch-flagged humanitarian ship, the Sea Watch 3, was called by a U.S. Navy vessel to take on board 41 survivors and 12 bodies recovered after a shipwreck on Tuesday. Conte's office refused to confirm the report.

The move comes hours after Italy summoned the French ambassador to the foreign ministry in Rome.

It added that Italy was waiting for French to take action to "heal the situation that has been created".

While acknowledging that the controversial European Union quota system - which would have seen illegal immigrants arriving to the bloc forced on unwilling nations - was "a failure", the UN figure insisted: "Unless Europe goes back to this notion of sharing the burden, we will not get out of this situation".

That has put pressure on Italy and Greece, the entry points for the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty.

A boat loaded with 55 people who were thought to be Syrian refugees landed Wednesday on the northwest coast of Cyprus, a Mediterranean island split into ethnically Greek and Turkish sides.

The U.N. refugee agency has said that approximately 1,900 migrants came to Cyprus in about 40 boat trips since 2015.

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