Ship with 900 migrants on board docks in Sicily

Malta supplies

In his speech, Salvini shot back and said France had turned back 10,249 migrants at Italy's northern border since January "including women, children and disabled people".

Italy's economy minister, Giovanni Tria, also cancelled a meeting with his counterpart in Paris, a day after French President Emmanuel Macron said Rome had acted with "cynicism and irresponsibility" by closing its ports to migrants. At the same time, the Aquarius vessel of the aid group SOS Mediterranee continued its dayslong westward voyage to Spain, where it was rerouted after Italy and Malta refused it entry.

Salvini, the leader of the far-right, anti-immigration League party, blocked the Aquarius from entering Italian ports this weekend, prompting an global outcry. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said France was "fully aware of the burden that the migration pressure is placing on Italy" and that it was committed to cooperating with Rome on immigration.

Italy has defended its decision to refuse to allow the Aquarius rescue ship to dock, saying it has never abandoned the ship and is escorting it to Spain.

"I am happy about the good cooperation that we want to develop between Rome, Vienna and Berlin - I think it marks very sensible cooperation that will contribute to reducing illegal migration to Europe", said Kurz, whose country assumes the EU's rotating presidency on July 1.

Ms Merkel spoke after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a top CSU leader, called for Germany to ally itself with Austria, governed by a right-wing coalition, and Italy on migration and security policies.

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Many states have fallen short of their pledge, made in 2015, to take some asylum seekers from Italy and Greece - the first port of call for most migrants given their long Mediterranean coastlines - and share the cost of their care.

Speaking to the Senate Wednesday, Salvini accused France of only welcoming 640 of the 9,816 migrants it had promised to take from Italy.

Yet Slovakia's premier insisted that "we refuse to let migrants enter our country", a stance that could bring him into conflict with Italy's new leaders, who have called for the automatic, compulsory resettlement of migrants across all European Union countries.

Salvini has repeatedly vowed to stem the flow of migrants to Italy, which has seen more than 700,000 arrive on its shores since 2013.

He demanded that France move from "words to action and offer a sign of generosity" by taking more in. Italian maritime vessels, however, are still docking in its ports: on Wednesday, an Italian coast guard vessel docked in Catania, Sicily with 932 migrants aboard. "The coastguard and navy can continue to save lives, but other countries need to keep giving us a hand", he said.

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