French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke with his Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell over the phone about the current European migrant crisis, and both sides urged "a broad discussion" of the hard issue at the European Union summit on June 28-29, the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
While Spain adopted a diplomatic tone with Italy when it announced it would take the migrants, relations between Rome and Paris have deteriorated in an explosion of accusations and counter-accusations.
Separately, Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi summoned the French ambassador and said France had made "unacceptable" and "unjustifiable" remarks which need urgent rectification.
Macron, in a late Wednesday phone call with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, said he did not mean to offend "Italy and the Italian people", according to a statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron criticised what he called Italy's cynicism and irresponsibility in turning away the Aquarius, which is operated by SOS Mediterranee and the French-founded Doctors Without Borders.
"The French act superior but they have pushed back more than 10,000 people at the borders with Italy".
Spain's compassion is commendable, but this action, "however well meaning, is not going to resolve this problem and risks fuelling the illegal smuggling which the European Union is trying to close down", says The Daily Telegraph.
SOS Mediterranee, the aid group that operates the Aquarius, said Thursday the Italian coast guard boat leading the convoy chose to skirt Sardinia's east coast after high waves caused exhausted migrants aboard to be seasick.
In the aftermath of a separate rescue in waters off Libya, the U.S. Navy said it was still awaiting a decision on where it could disembark 40 African migrants it rescued at sea after a smugglers' boat capsized on Tuesday.
"It's very clear that Europe needs to reform its asylum system in a collective manner; there's a lot of resistance to that but there's no other way", Grandi said.
Grandi said closing ports wrongly threatens "rescue at sea" - a requirement under worldwide law - but said Italy's reasoning was "something that we need to listen to".
"Italy and France must deepen their bilateral and European cooperation to implement an effective migration policy with countries of origin and transit", the statement said.
With the weather worsening and concerns growing for the welfare of the most vulnerable migrants aboard the Aquarius, the Spanish Government has offered to receive the ship, although it will another three to four days sailing to reach port.
Some 400,000 migrants and refugees passed through Hungary in 2015 on their way to Germany and other destinations in Western Europe.