Malta will let the rescue ship Lifeline dock after Italy refused it entry, ending the vessel's near week-long wait in the Mediterranean with more than 230 migrants on board, Italy's prime minister said on Tuesday.
The offer resolved a standoff with Rome, where a new populist government, co-led by the anti-immigrant League party, has shaken European migration policy by announcing it will no longer let in ships operated by charities that rescue migrants.
Mission Lifeline, the aid group that runs the ship, welcomed Malta's offer but said on Twitter "we now need EU countries to welcome the people."
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said his Maltese counterpart Joseph Muscat told him about his decision in a phone call.
The Lifeline has already spent five days stuck in international waters. After reaching Malta, the migrants will be divided up among European Union members who are willing to take them in, Conte said. He did not say when it would arrive.
"Italy will do its part and welcome a portion of the migrants who are on board Lifeline in the hope that other European countries do the same," he said.
Conte said the ship would then be impounded and its captain investigated over reports that he ignored instructions to let the Libyan coastguard pick up the migrants.
Malta has yet to confirm, but issued a statement earlier saying it had been participating in discussions with Brussels to find a diplomatic solution that involved "the sharing of responsibility by a number of member states".-
Source: National News Agency