The Maltese government has not authorised the Italian navy ship 'Minerva' to enter the port of Valletta to offload the 76 migrants (including 13 women) to whom it came to the rescue as they drifted in a rubber dinghy 40 miles south of Lampedusa in Maltese waters. The ship's commander invoked the laws which guarantee docking at the nearest secure port for sea-rescue operations, whilst also considering the overcrowding of the identification and deportation centre (CIE) in Lampedusa. The Italian ambassador has begun to work on the issue. At this time the ship is just off the Maltese coast, waiting for the diplomatic impasse to be resolved. This evening the Maltese parliament is expected to discuss the immigration emergency, following the visit last Friday of the EU Commissioner for Justice and Civil Liberty, Jacques Barrot
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