Macron, Mattarella 'reaffirm importance' of Franco-Italian ties

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a meeting with farmers at the Elysee Palace in Paris February 11, 2019. — Ian Langsdon/Pool pic via Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a meeting with farmers at the Elysee Palace in Paris February 11, 2019. — Ian Langsdon/Pool pic via Reuters

PARIS, Feb 13 — France's President Emmanuel Macron and his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella “reaffirmed the importance” of their bilateral ties, the French presidency said yesterday, as relations between the two countries had become strained.

In a telephone conversation, the two leaders “recalled that France and Italy, who together built the European Union, have a special responsibility to work together for its defence and revival,” the Elysee statement said.

Relations plunged to their lowest since the end of World War II last week when France recalled its ambassador to Rome in protest against “unfounded attacks and outlandish claims” by Italy's new populist government leaders, Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini.

Paris was angry over Di Maio's meeting with French “yellow vest” anti-government protesters outside Paris.

Di Maio said the aim was to prepare a common front for European Parliament elections in May, while boasting on Twitter that “the wind of change has crossed the Alps.”

Salvini on Monday signalled his willingness to talk to ease the spat with France.

The conversation between the two heads of state on Tuesday was seen as another step in that direction.

“They reaffirmed the importance of Franco-Italian relations, fostered on historic, economic and cultural ties,” the French presidency said. — AFP

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