The European Union ended a standoff with Italy over African immigration, agreeing to take 116 asylum-seekers rescued at sea but denied permission to go ashore by the country’s right-wing interior minister.
The EU said Germany, France, Portugal, Luxembourg and Ireland agreed to take the asylum-seekers, meeting a condition set by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for allowing the group to land.
An additional group of those rescued by the Italian coastguard would be received in Italy with the support of the Catholic Church, it added. Reports last week said there were 135 migrants on the vessel.
“Job done, mission accomplished,” Salvini tweeted after announcing he was willing to let the ship disembark.
A European Commission spokeswoman said the incident showed the urgent need for temporary arrangements to ensure disembarkations of rescued persons in a timely manner.
The French presidency said France was “doing its bit.”
Salvini, also Italy’s deputy prime minister, staked much of his political credibility on halting migrant flows.
Shutting Italian ports to charity rescue ships is a frequent strategy to force the EU’s hand in dealing with migrants.
In a statement on Facebook, Salvini said a boat from a German charity carrying 40 rescued asylum seekers off Libya would be stopped from disembarking in Italy.
“In the next few minutes I will sign a ban on admission and transit in Italian waters,” Salvini said.
Last August, he prevented another coastguard boat carrying 150 migrants from docking for five days until Albania, Ireland and Italy’s Catholic Church agreed to take responsibility.