July 19, 2019 / 6:40 AM / 6 months ago

Italy's Di Maio calls for meeting with Salvini in peace offering

ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio called for a meeting on Friday with government partner and co-deputy PM Matteo Salvini in a peace offering following mutual recriminations that raised concerns about the stability of the ruling coalition.

FILE PHOTO: 5 Star leader and Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio presents his EU election program in Rome, Italy, May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo

“It is desirable that we talk and see each other today,” Di Maio said in an interview with state-owned broadcaster RAI 3.

Di Maio, who heads the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, ruled out the collapse of the coalition.

“The government is not in question,” he said.

Di Maio and Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, forged an unexpected alliance a year ago after inconclusive elections.

Their ties have soured since the League overcame the 5-Star in last May’s European parliamentary election and Salvini started to act in effect as the real prime minister.

The election of Ursula von der Leyen as next president of the EU Commission triggered the latest clash between the two allies, with Di Maio backing her and Salvini giving the thumbs down.

Rumours of a possible coalition crisis surged on Thursday evening when it emerged that Salvini had asked to see President Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s political powerbroker.

Speaking on a late night TV show, Salvini denied planning to hand in his resignation to the head of state.

However, Italian newspapers on Friday speculated about the possibility of Italy holding early elections in the autumn.

Di Maio said he wants to meet Salvini later in the day to iron out divergences.

“Among mature people it is better to see each other than to talk to each other in the press,” Di Maio said.

Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni, Editing by William Maclean

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