Malta will accept 90 migrants rescued by an Italian coastguard vessel in its search and rescue zone, defusing a stand-off with the new Italian government.
Italy’s coastguard said it picked up the migrants from a sinking boat off Libya at the request of the Maltese rescue co-ordination centre. Malta initially refused to send a vessel to transfer to land.
Maltese Armed Forces were surveilling the situation and the Italians became involved, an armed forces spokeswoman said, before government changed tack and said the migrants could dock.
Malta repeatedly insists migrants should go to the closest safe harbour in this case the Italian island Lampedusa.
European Union interior ministers will meet in Malta next week to discuss a new migrant distribution mechanism.