France brands Italy's refusal of migrant rescue ship a 'nasty gesture'

The French government has slammed Italy's refusal to accept a rescue ship carrying more than 200 migrants -- calling it a "nasty gesture".

The Ocean Viking was finally docked in France last week -- where the migrants were allowed to disembark in the southern city of Toulon to be processed.

"It's a bad gesture", but "the important thing is to continue cooperation and not leave it at that”, President Emmanuel Macron's entourage said.

“The people disembarked in Toulon will be deducted from the number we are taking in this year as part of our solidarity with Italy".

Of the 234 people rescued by the vessel in the Mediterranean, more than half were refused entry into France.

"Of the 234 people - at the time of writing all the procedures have not been completed - 44 have been recognised as minors, 60 can apply for asylum, including Syrians, Sudanese and Eritreans, 44 have had their applications rejected today", said Gerald Darmanin, France's Minister of the Interior.

After Rome's refusal to accept the Ocean Viking, France has called for "European initiatives" to "better control [its] external borders".

Italy's Interior Minister recently defended the line taken by the new right-wing government, and urged Europe to get a stronger grip on the migration "phenomenon".

EU interior ministers will meet in Brussels next week to discuss migration policy in light of the current crisis.