Italy coalition parties resolve migrant spat in late-night talks


Italy’s coalition parties patched up a row over the planned arrival of boat migrants on Thursday, with hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini agreeing to let in a small group following late-night government talks.

Salvini, leader of the far-right, anti-migrant League, had threatened on Wednesday to block the transfer of would-be refugees who were part of a group of 49 migrants that disembarked in Malta after spending more than two weeks at sea.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement had given their blessing to the arrival, and the public spat with Salvini was seen as another sign of growing discord within the 8-month-old government.

But Conte and 5-Star leader Di Maio met Salvini in the dead of night and reached a deal that will see around a dozen migrants let in, while putting pressure on European Union partners to honour past immigration pacts.

Before the late-night agreement, Salvini had insisted that Italy would not take in a single one of the migrants who had been stranded at sea.

“I don’t want to bring down any government,” Salvini told Rtl radio on Thursday, following unsourced reports in Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper that some League politicians were plotting to oust 5-Star and put together a new coalition.

“Do you think I would create such a government,” Salvini said, when asked about the report. “If I commit to something, I want to see it through … there is a programme that needs to be completed. We have only just started.”