France is not ready for now to let the Mediterranean rescue ship Aquarius dock and disembark dozens of migrants at the port of Marseille, France's finance minister said on Tuesday.
"For the moment it's 'no'," Bruno Le Maire said when asked on BFM TV if Paris was ready to respond positively to a request from charities for permission to dock with 58 people aboard in the southern French port.
Le Maire said ships were supposed to dock at the nearest port under European rules and Marseille was not the nearest.
"On matters of migration, the issue must be handled firmly and clearly, and European rules respected," the minister said.
Aquarius 2 is the one remaining charity rescue vessel still operating in the Central Mediterranean area, picking up migrants who are in many cases trying to get to Europe from Libya.
The charity groups suffered a major blow on Monday, when in addition to the recent barring of their boats at Italian ports, Panama authorities revoked the Aquarius vessel's registration.