France blasts Italy for 'baseless attacks,' recalls ambassador from Rome

The march arrives at Bastille Square in Paris

The march arrives at Bastille Square in Paris

The French government blamed the move on "baseless verbal attacks" from Italy's leaders, which it said were "unprecedented" since the end of the second world war.

France is recalling its ambassador to Italy amid mounting tensions, after Di Maio met with French yellow vest protesters and offered to support their anti-government movement.

The rupture, the first withdrawal of a French envoy to Rome since World War Two, was announced by the foreign ministry.

Luigi Di Maio, fourth from right, meets with European parliamentary candidates standing in France on a gilets jaunes list.

Relations between the two countries - both founding members of the European Union - have been tense since Italy's populist Five Star Movement and right-wing League party formed a coalition government in June 2018.

'Having disagreements is one thing, but manipulating the relationship for electoral aims is another.

Salvini and De Maio angered Macron in particular by publicly supporting the "yellow vest" protesters who have taken to the streets to denounce high living costs and a perceived indifference by the government to rural and small-town France.

November 2018: Mass demonstrations begin in France, as the "Yellow Vest" movement stages huge and often violent protests against Macron and the cost of living in France. France said the comment was an unacceptable "provocation". Di Maio accused France last month of fuelling poverty in Africa, suggesting it was a neo-colonial power.

Italy has accused France of helping to cause the migrant crisis.

After meeting with members of the Citizens' Initiative Rally group of yellow vests on Tuesday, Di Maio boasted on Twitter that "the wind of change has crossed the Alps".

Italy's two deputy prime ministers, Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League and Luigi Di Maio of the populist, anti-establishment Five-Star movement, have in recent months goaded Macron on a number of issues.

Conte, a political unknown who became prime minister previous year as a compromise between Salvini and Di Maio, was caught on video at last month's World Economic Forum in Davos discussing the dispute with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In an interview Wednesday, Le Pen said Macron's attempts at national reconciliation will fail if the president fails to address the demands of yellow vests.

"We don't want to row with anyone", Salvini said on Thursday in a statement.

"We are ready and willing, with a constructive spirit, to turn the page for the good of our people", Salvini said.

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