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Italy agrees to take in migrants

Italy agreed on Sunday to take in 140 migrants off the deck of a Turkish-owned cargo ship that had rescued them in the Mediterranean Sea, reported the New York Times.

The acceptance ends a four day diplomatic stand-off between Italy and Malta. Rome had intially said that ship was in Matlese search and rescue area and that they should take them in, according to the BBC.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Italy was taking in the migrants for "humanitarian reasons", reported the BBC. Frattini made sure to insist the actions did not set a precedent.

“Malta should have taken them in,” Mr. Frattini was quoted as saying on state television, according to The Associated Press, reported the New York Times.

The migrants were initially rescued off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa after their boats got into trouble because of rough seas, reported the BBC.

“Thank God, thank God, the situation is now resolved,” said Laura Boldrini, a spokeswoman in Rome for the commissioner’s office, reported the New York Times.

The New York Times also reports that one woman aboard, who was pregnant, died. All of the migrants had traveled from Africa.

BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8007379.stm
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/20/world/europe/20migrants.html?_r=1&ref=world