August 24, 2018 / 8:51 AM / in 8 months

Italy's Di Maio vows 'hard line' with European Commission over migrants on ship

FILE PHOTO: Italian Minister of Labor and Industry Luigi Di Maio speaks at the Italian Business Association Confcommercio meeting in Rome, Italy, June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

ROME (Reuters) - Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Friday that Italy will take a “hard line” with the European Commission at a meeting in Brussels to distribute migrants being held on a coast guard ship in Sicily and repeated a threat to suspend EU funds over the case.

“The soft line does not work, the hard line will be to withhold funds if they don’t listen to us,” he said on Italian television.

Envoys from about a dozen member states were meeting on Friday to discuss the disembarkation from the ship. They include Italy, Malta, Greece, Spain, Germany, France and Austria.

Di Maio first made his threat to withhold the funds on Thursday.

Some 150 adult migrants are still on the coast guard ship Diciotti, which docked in Catania on Monday. Italy is insisting that other EU countries share the burden of taking the migrants.

Reporting By Philip Pullella

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