France recalls ambassador to Rome over Di Maio meeting with Yellow Vests

Photo: EPA Luigi Di Maio

France has recalled its ambassador to Rome, Christian Masset, for consultations, news wires reported on Thursday. The French Foreign ministry said the move was related to "groundless attacks by Italy without precedent since the end of the war" and "outrageous statements" by the Italian government. "Disagreeing is one thing, exploiting relations for electoral ends is another," the ministry added.

France reacted angrily after Italy's Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio and head of the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S) travelled to France to meet "Yellow Vest" anti-government protesters. On Tuesday he met near Paris with prominent Yellow Vest protesters Christophe Chalençon and Ingrid Levavasseur, who is heading a Yellow Vest list for EP elections in May. Di Maio invited them and other Yellow Vests to a follow-up meeting in Rome, claiming on Twitter that "The wind of change has crossed the Alps."

"This new provocation is unacceptable between neighbouring countries and partners at the heart of the EU," a French ministry spokesman said in a statement. Di Maio had already drawn Paris's ire last month after he accused France of fuelling the migrant influx to Europe by continuing to "colonise" Africa. That prompted France to summon Italy's ambassador in protest.


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