SPAIN has agreed to accept 60 migrants from a rescue ship stranded in the Mediterranean following an initial reluctance to offer a safe harbour for the Aquarius.

Following an agreement struck between six European countries it was decided that the vessel will dock in Malta. The 141 people on board, including scores of children, will be relocated in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain.

Catalan President Quim Torra yesterday morning offered ports controlled by his government to the rescue ship, saying on social media: “I’ve asked Catalan ports to welcome the Aquarius ship in Palamós, Vilanova or Sant Carles de la Ràpita, all of which are ports managed by the Catalan government, in order to disembark the people with all the guarantees needed. Catalonia will always be a welcoming land.”

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His remarks seemed likely to trigger a further dispute with the Madrid administration, as Spain manages the biggest ports in Barcelona and Tarragona.

Spain had welcomed the Aquarius to Valencia last year with more than 600 migrants on board, but the executive had said its was not the closest country on this occasion.

However, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted: “Spain has coordinated a pioneering agreement with six countries to distribute the reception of the people of the Aquarius. It has been possible thanks to the road we started in June, promoting a common and solidarity exit to migratory flows.”

The Aquarius, run by French charities SOS Mediterranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), rescued the migrants from the waters off the coast of Libya on Friday and had called for European governments to offer them a placed of safety.

Meanwhile, the main unionist party in Catalonia, Ciutadans (Citizens) said it would file criminal charges against the speaker of the Catalan parliament Roger Torrent and members of the chamber’s governing bureau who allowed a vote in support of independence in February.

The party accused them of a breach of their official duty for approving a resolution by the left-wing Public Unity Candidacy (CUP) urging MPs to abide by the political goals that were set out following the non-binding referendum in 2015.

Carlos Carrizosa, Citizens’ spokesperson in parliament, urged Sánchez not to overlook the political actions and accused him of being a “hostage” to pro-independence parties.

Sánchez only came to power in June after pro-independence parties in the Spanish parliament supported his no confidence vote which led to Mariano Rajoy being kicked out.

Torrent retaliated quickly, saying Citizens’ problem was democracy.

He wrote on Twitter: “The same people who take symbols on the streets pursue political debate in parliament.

“Your problem is not independence, it is democracy.”