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France slams Italy’s di Maio for meeting with Yellow Vest protesters

Italian Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio
Italian Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio Max Rossi/File photo/Reuters

The French foreign ministry has said it was “unacceptable” for Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio to meet leaders of the French anti-government Yellow Vest protesters in Paris this week. A ministry spokesperson called the meeting a provocation.


"This new provocation is unacceptable between neighbouring countries and partners at the heart of the European Union," said the spokesperson in a statement on Wednesday.

"Mr Di Maio, who has governmental responsibilities, should ensure that he does not impair with its repeated interferences our bilateral relations, in the interest of both France and Italy.”

Di Maio, the head of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, announced Tuesday that had been near Paris to meet with yellow vest leader Christophe Chalencon and Ingrid Levavasseur, who is heading a yellow vest list in European Parliament elections in May.

He said he had invited them other members of the protest movement to a follow-up meeting in Rome

French President Emmanuel Macron is hoping to counter a wave of populist movements in several European countries by forming an alliance of pro-European centrists ahead of the elections.

Tensions with Italy

Tensions have risen between France and Italy since the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League party came to power in a coalition in Italy in June.

Last month France summoned Italy’s ambassador in protest against Di Maio’s accusing France of fuelling the migrant influx to Europe by continuing to "colonise" Africa. And Italy’s other deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini directly put down French President Emmanuel Macron when he expressed solidarity with the French people “who live in France under a terrible government and terrible president".

(with AFP)

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