Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini makes a point during a joint press conference with Vice President of Libyan Parliamentary Council Ahmed Maitig, in Rome, July 5, 2018.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini makes a point during a joint press conference with Vice President of Libyan Parliamentary Council Ahmed Maitig, in Rome, July 5, 2018.

ROME - Italy's firebrand interior minister is threatening to return to Libya 177 migrants who have been aboard an Italian coast guard ship for days following another standoff with Malta.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demanded Sunday that other European countries take in the migrants after his Maltese counterpart, Michael Farrugia, insisted that the "only solution" is for the Diciotti ship to dock at the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

The Diciotti has been off Lampedusa after rescuing the migrants Aug. 16. Italy asked Malta to take them in, but Malta refused, saying the migrant boat wasn't in distress and that the migrants declined Maltese assistance, preferring to continue toward Italy.

In a tweet Sunday, Farrugia accused Italy of rescuing the migrants in Maltese waters "purely to prevent them from entering Italian waters."