Diplomatic tensions flare as migrants head to Spain

Amid an escalation with France's president over the refusal to take in stranded migrants in the Mediterranean, Emmanuel Macron calling for "not giving in to emotion" and insists he's working with the government in Rome.

Italy's economy minister, Giovanni Tria, also cancelled a meeting with his counterpart in Paris, a day after French President Emmanuel Macron said Rome had acted with "cynicism and irresponsibility" by closing its ports to migrants.

The Aquarius and two Italian ships that have taken some of the migrants are now expected to arrive in Valencia on Saturday night, weather conditions permitting, said SOS Mediterranee's co-founder Sophie Beau.

The vessel, run by charity organizations, was denied port entry also by Malta, and was eventually offered to dock in Spain.

Mr Salvini told the Senate: "We have nothing to learn about generosity, voluntarism, welcoming, and solidarity from anyone".

Beau said while the rescue ship the association operates, the Aquarius, is travelling the 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) to Spain, new victims "are dying under our eyes".

Macron called Conte on Thursday, a source in the prime minister's office said, without elaborating. He said this had been "active, constant, constructive work, work without let-up by France which, since last summer up to a few days ago on Libya, has come to the fore in partnership with Italy".

"Similar statements are compromising relations between Italy and France", he said, adding that Paris should take action to "rectify the situation".

France claims it has received no formal request from Italy for an apology, believing the planned meeting between Macron and Conte would go ahead.

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".

Branding Italy's decision to close its ports to a boat of 629 migrants "shameful", United Nations refugee chief Filippo Grandi demanded European Union (EU) countries make it as easy as possible for open borders-backing NGOs to continue ferrying immigrants from Africa to Europe.

On Wednesday, an Italian coast guard vessel docked in Catania, Sicily with more than 900 migrants aboard in a sign that Italy under the populist 5-Star Movement and anti-migrant League is still accepting some migrants, but is forcing other countries to share the burden. German aid group Sea-Watch said the migrants were picked up after their rubber dinghy sank and the Navy also had recovered the bodies of 12 people.

The ongoing diplomatic row follows several countries failing to live up to their 2015 pledge to take some asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, which have become the first port of call for most migrants entering Europe.

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