France offers to take some Aquarius migrants

Rescue boat the Aquarius

EPAThe Aquarius is now steaming towards Spain but will be out of the rescue zone for 10 days

The Aquarius itself, the rescue ship chartered by a French NGO which has been at the centre of the crisis, pulled into port some four hours later under a clear blue sky at the port in southeastern Spain.

The passengers are made up of 450 adult men and 80 women - including at least seven pregnant women -- as well as 11 under-13s and 89 adolescents, according to figures released by authorities in Valencia.

The two European Union countries' rejection of the migrants, who were rescued at sea while undertaking the perilous trip over the Mediterranean from Libya, has underscored deep divisions in Europe on how best to handle a recent massive influx of migrants attempting to reach the continent. A lot of them from Africa but others are from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, according to medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières. Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who took office two weeks ago, took the opportunity to show a more liberal stance.

Abalos said the Spanish government "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".

Earlier, the Italian coast guard ship Dattilo, carrying 274 migrants, also docked in Valencia.

Italy's far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini, who banned the Aquarius from entry to Italian ports, sparking a diplomatic row with France, has pledged to do the same with two Dutch NGO rescue boats who are beginning rescue operations off the coast of Libya. Ministers have already announced plans to study the removal of razor wire from barriers at Spain's North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and to offer health services to migrants whose documents aren't in order.

They were on board a migrant search-and-rescue ship that's operated by Doctors Without Borders and SOS Méditerranée. It took the convoy almost a week to travel the 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) between Sicily and Spain.

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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.

A Red Cross volunteer puts a banner at the logistical center a day before the arrival of refugee vessel Aquarius and two other Italian ships at the port of Valencia, Spain, June 16, 2018. France - which had angered Rome by branding it irresponsible over the vessel rejection - offered on Thursday to welcome those migrants who "meet the criteria for asylum".

Hundreds of worldwide journalists were accredited to cover Sunday's arrival of the migrants in Valencia.

Valencia's Mayor Joan Ribo, who has offered the ship a safe berth, described Italy's decision to turn the vessel away as inhuman. The Trenton picked up the migrants off the Libyan coast.

"These gentlemen know that Italy no longer wants to be complicit in the business of illegal immigration, and therefore will have to look for other ports (not Italian) where to go". "I think when people see more and more the benefit of helping others, that can alleviate fears and misunderstandings, and misinterpretations for political. games", he added. In a Facebook post Saturday, Salvini said Lifeline and the Seefuchs ship of the German group Sea-Eye couldn't dock in Italy.

Had Malta been the closest port of call, and thus duty-bound to take in the migrants aboard the Aquarius, Malta would not have hesitated to do so, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Sunday.

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