Migrants are checked by emergency workers after arriving o the Italian coast guard vessel Dattilo at the eastern port of Valencia, Spain, Sunday, Jun. 17, 2018. The first Italian government ship accompanying the migrant aid vessel Aquarius with 630 people aboard on Sunday docked at the Spanish port ending a weeklong perilous crossing of the Mediterranean. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

The Latest: Italy official hopes Spain takes '66,629 more'

June 17, 2018 - 8:52 am

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — The Latest on the influx of migrants into Europe (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

Italy's right-wing interior minister says he hopes Spain accepts "66,629" more migrants.

Speaking at a political rally, Matteo Salvini thanked Spain on Sunday for welcoming 629 migrants who were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea on June 9, adding he wishes the country would take in "66,629 more."

Spain offered safe harbor last week to a private aid ship that was carrying the rescued passengers after both Malta and Italy refused the Aquarius permission to dock.

Salvini, who heads the right-wing League party in Italy's new populist government, says that if France, Malta, Portugal and other European countries also receive migrants rescued from smugglers' boats, "we'll be happier."

Some 600,000 rescued migrants have arrived in Italy in recent years.

Referring to the costs, Salvini added: "Seeing that we pay, we'll take in who deserves to be taken in."


2:20 p.m.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is criticizing the government's decision to identify refugees from the rescue ship Aquarius who might be eligible for asylum in France.

Le Pen said that she's "extremely worried" that France's offer to take in some of the 629 migrants who landed in the Spanish port of Valencia on Sunday signals "the continued opening of our national borders.

Speaking Sunday on CNews, Le Pen says people seeking asylum in France could have gone to Tunisia or Algeria and she worries the government's decision on the Aquarius passengers will attract more migrant boats.

The migrants' arrival in Spain ended a weeklong odyssey after Italy and Malta refused to let the rescue ship dock.

Le Pen praised Italy for saying "it's finished" accepting boatloads of migrants.


2 p.m.

Pope Francis says he hopes governments can reach agreements that assure protection for those forced to flee homelands.

Francis told the faithful in St. Peter's Square on Sunday that such accords should aim for "safe migration."

The pontiff expressed hopes that governments intent on reaching a "World Pact on Refugees" this year can "reach an agreement to assure, with responsibility and humanity, assistance and protection for those forced to leave their lands" due to conflict and persecution.

He said all people are called upon to value refugees' contributions "so that they can be better fit into the communities that receive them." Francis added that "mutual respect" will lead to solutions for the issues involved with migration.


1:15 p.m.

Spain's minister for migration says the saga of the hundreds of migrants rescued by the aid ship Aquarius then forced to travel a week to find a willing port to dock in must make European Union overhaul its immigration policies.

Minster Magdalena Valerio tells Spanish radio Cope that the EU "must recognize that it needs an immigration policy these times require."

Valerio says Spain's new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered a safe harbor to the 630 migrants saved by the Aquarius because "these people could not be left adrift in the Mediterranean, where they could even face death."

Spain took in the migrants after Italy and Malta refused to. The Aquarius docked Sunday in Valencia.

Immigration will be a top issue at the EU leaders' June 28-29 summit.


12:20 p.m.

Spanish police say the migrants arriving on the Aquarius convoy will be granted 45 days before they must start to resolve their legal situation in Europe.

Spanish national police official Bernardo Alonso says that, due to the ordeal of their weeklong odyssey across the Mediterranean Sea, the 630 migrants arriving to the port of Valencia Sunday will have this dispensation. Emergency workers helping the migrants on Sunday reported that some of them "were in shock" from the strenuous ordeal of their trip across the sea.

Spanish authorities say they will examine the migrants case-by-case to see who may qualify for asylum.

Spain invited the Aquarius to unload the migrants in Valencia after Italy and Malta had denied them entry last week. The trip to the Spanish port took nearly a week.


11 p.m.

The Aquarius rescue ship, a pawn in Europe's latest battle over immigration, has docked in the Spanish port of Valencia after a weeklong odyssey carrying migrants around the Mediterranean Sea.

The boat operated by aid groups SOS Mediterranee Sea and Doctors Without Borders touched land shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday with 106 migrants onboard.

An Italian coast guard ship had already arrived in Valencia with 270 of the 630 total migrants that the Aquarius saved off Libyan shores over a week ago. Another Italian navy ship with the rest of the migrants from the Aquarius will arrive later.

Italy and Malta had denied entry to the rescue ship last Saturday. Spain then stepped in and offered to let it land. It took the convoy nearly a week to travel the 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) between Sicily and Spain.


8:30 a.m.

The head of Doctors Without Borders in Spain says he's glad that Spain has allowed an aid convoy with 630 migrants to dock but he's worried about European nations closing their ports to those rescued at sea.

An Italian ship helping transport the 630 migrants saved by the rescue boat Aquarius arrived at the Spanish port of Valencia on Sunday morning. Italy and Malta had denied entry to the Aquarius last weekend before Spain stepped in to offer them a safe harbor. The journey to Valencia took nearly a week.

David Noguera tells The Associated Press that "I have mixed feelings. I am happy that the journey is over, a journey that was too long, and I am worried for the situation in the Mediterranean and the closing of European ports."

The Aquarius, operated by Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee Sea, and another Italian government boat with migrants will dock in Valencia in the next few hours.


7 a.m.

The first Italian government ship accompanying the migrant aid vessel Aquarius with 630 people aboard has docked at the Spanish port of Valencia, ending a weeklong perilous crossing of the Mediterranean.

Medical staff boarded the Italian coast guard vessel Dattilo after it arrived just before 7 a.m. Sunday It will be followed by the Aquarius and another Italian navy ship, the Orione, in the coming hours.

The Aquarius, operated by the aid groups SOS Mediterranee Sea and Doctors Without Borders, was stuck off the coast of Sicily on June 9 when Italy refused permission to dock and demanded that Malta do so. Malta also refused.

Two days later, Spain stepped in and offered to grant the migrants entry at Valencia, some 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away.

The migrants were met by emergency workers, including health officials and psychologists, at the city's marina. Spanish authorities have said they will examine the migrants case-by-case to see if they qualify for asylum according to the country's regulations.


7 a.m.

Spain's minister of public works, said due to their ordeal, the migrants from the rescue ship Aquarius will be granted a "special authorization" to remain in the country for one month before "they will be dealt with according to our laws without exception."

Jose Luis Abalos says "Spain will act with sensitivity and at the same time within the law, and with a message to Europe that it doesn't have an immigration policy up to the challenge at hand."

The boatload of migrants that was forced to spend days crossing the western Mediterranean includes 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children and as many as seven pregnant women.

Spain has accepted the French government's offer to take in those migrants who want to go to France "once they have fulfilled the protocols."

The refusal a week ago by Italy and Malta to allow the Aquarius to enter their ports has created a row between European Union members over how to handle immigration. In the first five months of this year, a total of 35,455 migrants have reached European shores.


This item corrects the name of the Spanish minister to Jose Luis Abalos.

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