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Italian PM confirms meeting with Macron amid migrants

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The meeting, scheduled for Friday in Paris, was jeopardized on Wednesday, after the French president slammed Italian government for a "cynical" response to the migrant ship crisis. informs citing Sputnik.

The meeting was scheduled for Friday in Paris but on Wednesday the French president angered the right-wing Italian government after he slammed it for a "cynical" response to the migrant crisis.

The Italian government is now considering postponing the talks over unfavorable conditions, according to the askanews agency. They were expected to focus on migration and EU's eurozone single currency area.

Addressing the issue, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio stressed on Thursday that Rome was still waiting for Macron to apologize for his words about Italian migration policy.

"We're waiting for an apology. If we get one, we can start down a new path," Di Maio said in a radio interview. "There's still time to take a step back, apologize, and then start over."

Later French Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau said, that despite the conflict, both leaders had held a "sincere talk" on Wednesday and Paris still wants Conte to visit France.

"Emmanuel Macron and Giuseppe Conte held a telephone conversation yesterday in the evening. This was a sincere talk… We need to talk to Italy, this is a big partner, a big neighbor… [Conte's] visit is currently neither confirmed nor canceled, but we would like him to arrive," Loiseau told Europe 1 radio.

In his turn, Conte confirmed after the phone call that he planned to meet with the French President.

"President Macron underscored that he did not say anything that was meant to offend Italy or the Italian people," a statement from the Italian prime minister's office said, adding that "Macron and Conte agreed that with the end-June European Union summit looming, it is necessary that new initiatives are discussed together."

The row erupted after the Aquarius ship, operated by a non-profit, tried to dock in Italy with hundreds of undocumented immigrants rescued at sea. It was eventually redirected to Spain.

The Spanish port of Valencia's spokesperson told Sputnik on Wednesday that the rescue vessel, as well as Italian Coast Guard and naval ships, carrying over 600 migrants, could enter the Spanish port of Valencia late on Saturday.
Italy responded to French criticism by summoning its ambassador. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini then suggested that Conte call off the meeting with Macron and demanded that France apologize.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said that one should not get emotional over the situation with the rescue boat.

"One should never give in to the emotion, which is manipulated by some people," Macron told reporters, according to BFMTV broadcaster. The president also stressed that, over the past year, France and Italy have been working "hand in hand in an exemplary manner."

2018.06.14 / 13:55
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