France sending ambassador back to Italy following spat

Posted at 3:34 AM, Feb 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-15 03:34:02-05

PARIS (AP) — France is sending its ambassador back to Italy following the biggest diplomatic dispute between the two countries since World War II.

France's European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, said Friday on RTL radio that Ambassador Christian Masset will return Friday to Rome.

Loiseau said Italian President Sergio Mattarella called French President Emmanuel Macron and that they discussed "how important the friendship between France and Italy is, how much the countries need each other."

France recalled Masset last week to protest perceived Italian meddling in French domestic politics, after Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio met with French yellow vest activists seeking to run for the European Parliament.

The dispute between Italy's populist leaders and pro-EU Macron reflects tensions over Europe's direction ahead of those elections in May.