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The Latest: Italy, Malta Vow 'coordinated' Migration Stance

The Latest: Italy, Malta Vow 'coordinated' Migration Stance

Friday, 15 June 2018 09:38 AM

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the flow of migrants to Europe (all times local):

3 p.m.

Italy's foreign minister has met with his Maltese counterpart following a clash over a migrant rescue boat that escalated into a European-wide showdown.

The Italian foreign ministry said that Italy's Enzo Moavero Milanesi and Malta's Carmelo Abela, met Friday in Rome and expressed "the shared desire to work together in tight coordination, especially in European capitals, about migration in terms of revising" EU asylum regulations.

Italy had initially insisted that Malta take in the Aquarius rescue ship and the 629 migrants onboard rescued in a series of operations last weekend. Malta refused, saying it wasn't involved in the rescue. Italy refused as well, leaving the migrants stranded at sea until Spain stepped up to take the Aquarius in.

The Aquarius is currently en route to Valencia, having changed course Thursday due to rough weather.

2:40 p.m.

Spain's maritime rescue service says it has rescued around 270 migrants and recovered three bodies from more than 30 boats trying to cross from Africa by sea.

The rescue service says Friday's fog is cramping rescuers' efforts to locate three more boats in the Alboran Sea, east of the Strait of Gibraltar.

Nine rescue boats, a helicopter and an airplane from the European border agency, Frontex, are taking part in the operation.

Fleeing violent conflicts or extreme poverty, the migrants attempt the perilous journey into Europe in smugglers' dinghies or fragile, inflatable recreational boats.

At least 792 migrants have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, according to the United Nations. Through the first five months of 2018, 35,455 migrants reached European shores, with 11,792 of them arriving in Spain.

2:15 p.m.

The Spanish government says it will pass a decree to extend public health care to foreigners without residence permits as part of new migration policies.

The government's spokeswoman, Isabel Celaa, announced Friday a series of measures that will "put people's rights first" and distance the new center-left cabinet from the previous conservative administration.

Celaa says the government will assess through technical reports how to remove, "without losing any security," the barbed wire capping the fences of Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish enclaves in northern Africa.

Hundreds suffer injuries every year when they try to get onto European soil from Morocco.

Celaa, also minister of education, says the new measures shouldn't encourage more arrivals, because migrants are on the move anyway to escape poverty and violence.

2:05 p.m.

Pope Francis says that the Gospel teaches that it's wrong to leave migrants "at the mercy of the waves," an apparent critique of Italy's new migration policies.

The pope made the comments Friday during an audience with Italian workers. It was the second time in as many days that the Argentine Jesuit has referred to the plight of refugees after Italy's decision to refuse entry to a rescue boat with 600 migrants aboard.

In his speech, Francis lamented how many people in the world are excluded from work because of war or environmental degradation and said that those living comfortable lives should seek to help them.

The Gospel, he said, "teaches us and our world to not leave to the mercy of the waves those who leave their lands hungry for bread and justice."

9:55 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron and new Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte meet Friday amid tensions between the two countries over migration.

Conte, who heads a populist government, will have a working lunch with the pro-European Macron at the Elysee palace. They will then hold a joint news conference.

Macron's office said the discussions will focus on migrant-related issues and other major European topics ahead of an EU summit at the end of the month.

A feud was triggered this week by Macron's tough assessment of Italy's decision to shut its ports to a rescue ship carrying 629 migrants — he called the Italian government's behavior "irresponsible."

Both leaders agreed Thursday to maintain the planned meeting after a phone call they described as cordial.

Macron said he never "meant to offend" Italy.

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The Latest on the flow of migrants to Europe (all times local):3 p.m.Italy's foreign minister has met with his Maltese counterpart following a clash over a migrant rescue boat that escalated into a European-wide showdown.The Italian foreign ministry said that Italy's Enzo...
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