23:57 GMT +319 August 2018
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    The MV Aquarius rescue ship is seen as migrants on are rescued by the SOS Mediterranee organisation during a search and rescue (SAR) operation in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Libyan Coast, September 14, 2017

    France Ready to Accept Migrants From Aquarius Ship Amid Standoff With Italy

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    On June 10, Italy refused to accept the ship Aquarius, carrying migrants rescued in the Mediterranean. French President Emmanuel Macron harshly criticized the decision, angering Italy. Rome summoned the French ambassador in response.

    "He (Le Drian) confirmed that the French authorities are ready to support Spain by accepting to France those passengers of Aquarius who meet the criteria for granting the right to asylum after approval from the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless People (OFPRA)," the French Foreign Ministry reported following a telephone conversation between French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Spanish counterpart, Josep Borrell.

    Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has confirmed that he would meet with the French president despite the latter's having earlier slammed the Italian government for its "cynical" response to the migrant ship crisis.

    "One should never give in to emotion, which is manipulated by some people," Macron told reporters, according to the broadcaster BFMTV. 

    READ MORE: Spain Accepts Aquarius Migrant Ship Amid Italy-France Dispute

    Earlier, Italy, which is pursuing a hardline policy on immigration, closed its ports to the refugees on Aquarius, saying that Malta was the closest and safest port to accommodate the vessel.

    The Maltese authorities, in their turn, said the issue was not under their jurisdiction and only chose to send food to the ship, but denied entry to its ports.

    The Spanish authorities then said they were ready to let the Aquarius dock in one of their eastern ports.

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