Mattarella, Gentiloni back Minniti

Interior minister skipped cabinet meeting Monday

(ANSA) - Rome, August 8 - President Sergio Mattarella took the unusual step of issuing a statement backing a member of the government, Interior Minister Marco Minniti, on Monday amid reported tension within the executive about his ministry's code of conduct for NGOs involved in migrant rescues.
    Minniti skipped Monday cabinet meeting, fuelling speculation that he was think of quitting over differences about application of the code.
    The premier's office also came out of support of Minniti.
    Among other things, NGOs who sign the code pledge not to enter Libyan territorial waters to conduct rescues.
    NGOs that do not sign up to it are not guaranteed use of Italian ports.
    It is part of a strategy aiming to stopping the massive wave of migrants coming to Italy from North Africa.
    But other members of the government reportedly have doubts about the code.
    The tension escalated after a ship run by Doctors Without Frontier (MSF), one of the NGOs that did not sign the code, transferred a group a rescued migrants to the Italian Coast Guard at sea at the weekend, without having to enter a port.
    The coast guard answers to the ministry under Transport Minister Graziano Delrio.