Eighty-seven migrants on a wood boat were rescued off the Italian island of Lampedusa and are due to go to Malta, officials said.
Malta armed forces said one of its patrol boats took the migrants aboard after an Italian rescue vessel broke down.
Italy has had a number of spats with Malta – the European Union’s smallest country – over who should take in migrants from the Mediterranean.
The number of illegal migrants entering the European Union fell sharply for the third year in a row in 2018, the head of the EU’s border control agency Frontex said.
Thousands fleeing poverty and conflict across the Middle East and Africa still attempt the perilous crossing. Arrivals exacerbate political tensions and fuel a rise in far-right, anti-immigration parties across the continent.