Macron ‘never meant to offend’ Italy with migrant comments | Pakistan Today

Macron ‘never meant to offend’ Italy with migrant comments

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron sought to resolve tensions with Italy on Thursday, saying he never meant to cause offence by criticising its rejection of a migrant ship in remarks that sparked fury in Rome.
Macron had on Tuesday ignited the worst Franco-Italian diplomatic spat in years by accusing Rome of “cynicism and irresponsibility” for refusing to take in 629 migrants left stranded on a rescue ship that was eventually welcomed by Spain.
Rome summoned the French ambassador and cancelled a meeting between the countries’ economy ministers while threatening to call off talks between Macron and Italian premier Giuseppe Conte in Paris on Friday unless France issued an “official apology”.
But the tensions appeared to have ebbed after a telephone call Wednesday night between Macron and Conte.
“The president stressed that none of his comments were intended to offend Italy and the Italian people,” Macron’s office said in a statement, adding that Friday’s lunch meeting with Conte would go ahead as planned.
Conte told reporters in Rome that the exchange was “very cordial”.
Asked whether he thought the dispute was over, he said: “I very much think so, yes.
“But now we need to work on reform of the Dublin Agreement,” he added in reference to controversial EU rules which require migrants to apply for asylum in the country where they first arrive.
That has put pressure on Italy and Greece, the main entry points for people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The confirmation of Conte’s Paris visit came minutes after Italy’s deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio said Rome would “not back down” without a French apology.
“The day when people thought they could make a mockery of Italy is over,” Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement that shares power with the far-right League, was quoted by the Agi news agency as saying.