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French ambassador to return to Rome after France-Italy tensions

French European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, says France's ambassador to Rome is going back on Friday
French European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, says France's ambassador to Rome is going back on Friday Christophe Archambault/AFP

France’s ambassador to Italy, who was recalled last week to protest a series of critical comments by Italy's Deputy Prime Ministers, is to return to Rome on Friday. France's European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, said discussions showed that neither country wanted to jeopardise their good relationship.

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"We heard from political leaders who let themselves go with words and behaviour that were frankly unfriendly and inacceptable, who showed they regret it,” said Loiseau on Friday, speaking to French radio RTL.

France recalled its ambassador on 7 February, after Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, met with members of the Yellow Vest protest movement and declared his support for a list of candidates to run in European parliament elections in May.

France also protested critical comments made by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also serving as Deputy Prime Minister, against French President Emmanuel Macron.

It was first withdrawal of a French envoy to Rome since World War Two.

Loiseau said that that Salvini indicated he “did not want to have a war with France”, and Di Maio assured France that his meeting with the Yellow vest leaders was in his capacity as the leader of his party, not as Deputy Prime Minister.

She also said Macron and Italian President Sergio Mattarella spoke by phone on Tuesday and reiterated the importance of the friendship between France and Italy.

“Italy needs France, so let’s work together,” said Loiseau.

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