France denounces Salvini "unfounded statements" against Macron

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-24 00:15:44|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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PARIS, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- The French Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini's comments criticizing President Emmanuel Macron's leadership were "unacceptable," calling on Rome to respect "boundaries" to maintain friendly cooperation.

"These unfounded statements should be read in the context of domestic Italian politics. They are unacceptable," foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said.

In a daily online briefing, von der Muhll recalled that Italy's diplomatic envoy to France had been summoned to remind "the boundaries that should be observed for Franco-Italian relations to remain friendly and cooperative."

Earlier in the day, Salvini, who is the leader of the far-right League party, said he hoped the French voters would not choose Macron's party in European parliament elections later this year.

"Macron may no longer be our interlocutor. His support is less than 20 percent. I hope the French people can shortly make different choices," he told state-owned radio RAI.

The fresh anti-Macron remarks came two days after Italian ambassador to France Teresa Castaldo was summoned "following unacceptable and irrelevant remarks" made by Salvini's fellow deputy prime minister, Luigi Di Maio who pointed the finger to Paris to be behind Europe's worst migration crisis due to its foreign policy mainly in Africa.

Traditionally close allies, France and Italy saw their relations worsening after far-right League party 5-Star Movement came to power and formed a coalition government in Italy last June.

Since then, they have launched war of words taking aim at the French president, a harsh advocate of liberalism.

After a weekly cabinet meeting, European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau, earlier on Wednesday, told reporters "There are several things we need to do with our important neighbour Italy, and we want to continue to be able to work together."

"Does that mean the current environment permits ministerial visits as if nothing has happened? I will go to Italy once things have settled down," she added.