Author: Philip Pullella
ROME (Reuters) – Italy summoned France’s envoy on Wednesday and angrily rejected French criticism of its immigration policies, escalating a diplomatic standoff that is widening one of Europe’s main political fault lines.
A day after French President Emmanuel Macron said Rome had acted with “cynicism and irresponsibility” by closing its ports to a migrant ship, Italy’s economy minister cancelled a Paris meeting with his counterpart, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte weighed postponing a meeting with Macron scheduled for Friday.
“We have nothing to learn about generosity, voluntarism, welcoming, and solidarity from anyone,” far-right Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told the Senate.
Salvini, who is also deputy premier and the leader of the anti-immigrant League party, called on France to apologise and said he was not prepared to take criticism from a country which regularly stopped migrants on their shared border.
France said it has received no formal request from Italy for an apology, and that it believed the planned meeting between Macron and Conte would go ahead.
Visiting western France, Macron initially did not respond to questions on the issue, but later told reporters: “We must never give in to emotions, which some people manipulate.”