Italy Summons French Ambassador in Row Over Migrant Ship

France is the third country in Europe in terms of asylum applications after Germany and Italy

France is the third country in Europe in terms of asylum applications after Germany and Italy

Salvini, who last week said he would not allow Italy to become Europe's "refugee camp", told the Senate he was open to a possible "axis" with Germany and Austria ahead of a key European Union summit at the end of June that will consider possible changes to asylum law to better share the burden of incoming migrants.

A day after French President Emmanuel Macron said Rome had acted with "cynicism and irresponsibility" by closing its ports to a migrant ship, Italy's economy minister canceled a Paris meeting with his counterpart, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte weighed postponing a meeting with Macron scheduled for Friday. Italy refused to let the ship, carrying more than 600 migrants, dock.

Salvini, the leader of the far-right, anti-immigration League party, blocked the Aquarius from entering Italian ports this weekend, prompting an worldwide outcry.

Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi summoned the ambassador to a morning meeting "following the statements made yesterday in Paris on the Aquarius affair", his ministry said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

"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".

More than 1.8 million migrants have entered Europe since 2014. Justice Minister Dolores Delgado said that Italy may have violated global humanitarian law, while Ximo Puig, president of the Valencia region, commented: "Turning this into a political weapon is despicable.it is clear that Europe must act more wisely, but we can not let these people die at sea".

Ms Merkel spoke after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a top CSU leader, called for Germany to ally itself with Austria, governed by a right-wing coalition, and Italy on migration and security policies.

"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.

France sought to take a more conciliatory tone on Wednesday.

Salvini has repeatedly vowed to stem the flow of migrants to Italy, which has seen more than 700,000 arrive on its shores since 2013.

Under the EU's asylum laws - now the subject of revision amid a major political dispute - migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter Europe.

Mr Salvini said he plans to visit his conservative German counterpart in Berlin soon to hammer out new proposals on the boat row and the broader issue of migrant quotas.

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

"We have put a stop to the NGOs".

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