France says Malta appears ready to let rescue ship Lifeline dock

FILE PHOTO - Migrants are seen on the deck of the Mission Lifeline rescue boat in the central Mediterranean Sea, June 21, 2018. Picture taken June 21, 2018. Hermine Poschmann/Misson-Lifeline/Handout via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) – Malta appears ready to allow the rescue ship Lifeline, stuck in international waters in the Mediterranean sea with more than 230 migrants aboard, to enter one of its ports after Italy refused, a French government spokesman said on Tuesday.

The solution was broached in discussions on Monday between French President Emmanuel Macron and Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.

“A European solution may be to have the ship dock in Malta. It is the solution that seems to be shaping up at the moment,” Griveaux told RTL radio without elaborating.

“France would then be ready to send a team there to study individual (asylum) requests,” he said.

The Lifeline is the second rescue ship in weeks to expose Europe’s deep divisions over how to share refugees and economic migrants.

Leaders of the European Union failed on Sunday to come up with a joint position to tackle migration and will try again at a summit at the end of this week.

Earlier this month, a ship carrying more than 600 migrants, the Aquarius, was stranded similarly before it was accepted by Spain.

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