Italy's interior minister says Malta should take rescue boat

June 22, 2018 - 5:00 am

MILAN (AP) — Italy's interior minister says Malta should allow a Dutch-flagged rescue ship carrying 224 migrants to make port there because the ship is now in Maltese waters.

Matteo Salvini on Friday said "we ask humanly and politically that Malta finally opens one of its ports and lets these desperate people disembark," and then seize the ship. Malta has not responded.

Salvini on Thursday said he would not allow the ship operated by the German NGO Mission Lifeline to enter Italian ports, saying that it had acted improperly by taking on board migrants that the Italian coast guard had assigned to the Libyan coast guard to rescue. Salvini said the rescue was in Libyan waters, which Lifeline denies.

The standoff is similar to that over the Aquarius, which disembarked in Spain.

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