France suspends migrant deal with Italy over boat row

France has suspended a plan to take in 3,500 refugees currently in Italy after Rome refused to let a migrant rescue ship disembark on its shores.

Tensions between the two neighbours have escalated since Italy’s new government barred the Ocean Viking ship from docking with 230 migrants.

France has denounced the “unacceptable behaviour”, but Italy insists it has been taking in its share of migrants.

The boat will be allowed to dock on Friday in the French port of Toulon.

The charity that runs the vessel, SOS Méditerranée, said it was both relieved by the French decision and angry that for three weeks those on board had been let down by Europe’s “dramatic failure”.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin warned of “extremely severe consequences for our bilateral relations” with Italy. For a start, France would not take in 3,500 refugees it had earlier agreed with Italy to accept in protest at Rome’s actions. He also said France would take measures to strengthen controls on the…

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