Updated | Muscat discusses migration with Macron as Aquarius starts journey to Valencia

The Maltese Prime Minister said that Malta and France’s policies in the sector converge and the two countries would work together going forward • Aquarius makes its way towards to Valencia with 106 migrants onboard 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Tuesday evening that he had discussed the latest developments in the Mediterranean with French President Emmanuel Macron.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said that the two countries’ policies in the sector converged, and that the two leaders had agreed to work together going forward.

The latest development comes after France accused Italy’s new government of cynicism and irresponsibility.

Macron had earlier denounced the block on the Aquarius, a rescue vessel that is the subject of a diplomatic dispute between Malta and Italy, insisting that Italy should have taken the migrants in.

The Aquarius was carrying 629 migrants rescued within the Libyan search and rescue region, making Lampedusa its nearest safe port. The Italian government however refused to grant the vessel access to any of its ports.

Malta insisted that Italy was legally obliged to take the vessel in and refused to allow the vessel into Malta, before Spain ultimately stepped in and agreed to take in the Aquarius.

In comments to Italian journalists, Italy's Home Affairs minister Matteo Salvini accused Malta of acting irresponsible. The leader of the far-right Lega also hit back at both France and Spain, after both countries criticised Italy's rejection of the Aquarius.

"Spain wants to report us, France says I'm 'sickening'. I want to work serenely with all, but with one principle: Italians first," tweeted Salvini.

Luigi Di Maio, the leader of the 5-Star movement and the Italy's Employment minister also went on the offensive in the face of criticism by European partners, suggesting that France should open its ports to migrant vessels like Spain had done.

"I'm happy the French have discovered responsibility: if they want we will help them," Di Maio said, "They should open their ports and we'll send a few people to France."

MV Aquarius en route to Valencia

At roughly 8pm on Tuesday Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) tweeted that all the rescued migrants that were to be transferred to the Italian Navy were safely on board its vessels, leaving 106 people left on board - 45 men, 51 women and 10 children. 

"While this bring an end to the ordeal of 629 rescued people at sea, it should not set a precedent for future disembarkations in the Mediterranean," tweeted the organisation. 

Shortly after 10pm Euronews journalist Anelise Borges, who is currently onboard the Aquarius, tweeted that the vessel was now moving and on its way to Spain. 

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