Austrian army practice the protection of the border between Slovenia and Austria in Spielfeld, Austria, Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

The Latest: Italy to take some migrants from stranded ship

June 26, 2018 - 7:57 am

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on Europe's migrant crisis (all times local):

2 p.m.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says Italy will take some of the migrants onboard the rescue ship run by the German group Mission Lifeline, which has been stranded near Malta for days.

Conte said in a statement Tuesday that he made the pledge in a call to the prime minister of Malta. He added that he hoped that other EU countries would follow suit.

The Lifeline has been stranded in international waters some 25 miles from the coast of Malta for days, after both Italy and Malta refused to allow it to dock in their ports. Both countries underlined that the ship had acted improperly by not following the orders of the Italian command center directing rescues at sea.

More than 200 migrants are on board the ship. The impasse came after a similar standoff over another private rescue boat, the Aquarius.


12:30 p.m.

Spain's prime minister says his country is prepared to be part of a European response to the plight of a German-operated migrant aid ship, but isn't specifying whether it will allow the vessel to dock.

Earlier this month, Spain took in 630 migrants from the French aid ship Aquarius after Malta and Italy refused it access. A similar situation has now arisen with a ship operated by the German aid group Mission Lifeline, which has been stuck off Malta since Thursday with 234 migrants aboard.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was asked during a visit to Berlin Tuesday whether Spain would offer safe harbor. He replied that "Spain will be in the common answer that we give, in this case, to the Lifeline ship but it has to be common, it has to be European, it has to be from various countries."


12:15 p.m.

The leader of Malta says his island nation is working to solve the case of a German-run rescue ship stuck in international waters with 234 migrants on board.

In a statement Tuesday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Malta aims "to prevent escalation into humanitarian crisis" by sharing the responsibility with other fellow EU nations. No details were given, and the statement did not say whether Malta would allow the vessel to dock.

The statement also said that Malta planned to investigate the captain of the Lifeline, run by a German non-governmental agency, nothing that he had ignored instructions.

The ship has been stranded for days since Italy's populist interior minister refused to allow it access to ports, echoing the case of the Aquarius that was refused entry to Italy and Malta, only to be taken in by Spain, 1500 kilometers (900 miles) away.


11:45 a.m.

Fearful of a domino effect if Germany closes its borders, Austria has conducted a high-profile training exercise to show how it could deal with an influx of migrants along its frontier with Slovenia.

Hundreds of police and soldiers staged a dry run Tuesday near Spielfeld, 175 kilometers (110 miles) south of Vienna. The town was a major crossing point for migrants in the summer and fall of 2015.

Thousands of migrants poured through Europe's open borders daily three years ago, triggering a humanitarian and political crisis that has left deep divisions on the continent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under pressure from conservative allies in Bavaria to turn migrants back at the border, a move that could prompt others to do the same.

Hardly any migrants have been arriving in Spielfeld recently.

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