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New Italian government reaches EU deal on migrant rescue boat

Italy said on Thursday it had done a deal with European Union countries to share out migrants aboard a charity ship at sea in the Mediterranean, resolving the first of what may be repeated episodes that will test the new government in Rome.

The Ocean Viking, run by French charities SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), is carrying 82 people rescued in various operations off the coast of Libya this week, and has requested a safe port.

MSF said the Ocean Viking picked up 34 people during stormy weather on Tuesday (September 10) after they were rescued by a 14-meter sailboat. On Wednesday (September 11), a pregnant woman and her husband were medically evacuated from the ship to Malta.

The Ocean Viking s currently midway between Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa with all migrants on board from Africa, including 17 minors, a spokeswoman said.

The Italian government, which was sworn in last week, has promised a change of tack compared with the previous administration in which far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini closed Italy's ports to migrant rescue boats. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said after a meeting of his top ministers on Thursday that "several EU countries" had agreed to take in the migrants aboard the Ocean Viking.

(Source: Reuters)

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