Paris: Malta appears ready to allow the rescue ship Lifeline, stuck in international waters in the Mediterranean sea with more than 230 migrants aboard, to enter one of its ports after Italy refused, a French government spokesman said on Tuesday.
In Valletta, sources close to the Maltese government told Reuters a final decision was still pending.
"No final decision has been made yet but if the ship comes in, the understanding is that the migrants will be shared among EU countries," one of the sources said.
A solution was broached in discussions on Monday between French President Emmanuel Macron and Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.
"A European solution may be to have the ship dock in Malta. It is the solution that seems to be shaping up at the moment," Griveaux told RTL radio, without elaborating.
"France would then be ready to send a team there to study individual (asylum) requests," he said.
The Lifeline is the second rescue ship in weeks to expose Europe's deep divisions over how to share refugees and economic migrants.
Leaders of the European Union failed on Sunday to come up with a joint position to tackle migration and will try again at a summit at the end of this week.
Earlier this month, a ship carrying more than 600 migrants, the Aquarius, was stranded before it was accepted by Spain.