February 6, 2019 / 5:19 PM / 6 months ago

France says Di Maio meeting with 'yellow vest' protesters 'unacceptable provocation'

FILE PHOTO: Italian Minister of Labor and Industry Luigi Di Maio speaks at the Italian Business Association Confcommercio meeting in Rome, Italy, June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File photo

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s foreign ministry on Wednesday slammed a meeting between Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio and leaders of France’s “yellow vest” anti-government movement, accusing him of undermining relations between the two European neighbours.

“This new provocation is not acceptable between neighbouring countries and partners in the European Union,” a foreign ministry spokesman said in a daily online briefing.

“Mr Di Maio, who holds government responsibilities, must take care not to undermine, through his repeated interferences, our bilateral relations, in the interest of both France and Italy.”

Di Maio, who also leads the populist, anti-establishment 5-Star party, said he had stopped over in France and met “yellow vests” leader Christophe Chalencon and candidates on the grassroots movement’s list for European Parliament elections in May. He tweeted that “winds of change” had crossed the Alps.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Leigh Thomas

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