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France Recalls Ambassador to Italy

France recalls Rome ambassador after minister met ‘yellow vest’ leaders

Feb 09

11:36
2019

France recalled its ambassador to Rome on Thursday, for the first time since Italy declared war on France in 1940.

The move signifies a serious rupture, unprecedented in postwar relations between European powers and only a step short of breaking diplomatic ties. Agnès Von Der Mühll, the spokeswoman for the French foreign ministry, announced the recall of ambassador Christian Masset in a short statement.

“France has for several months been the object of repeated accusations, of baseless attacks, of outrageous declarations that everyone knows and bears in mind,” Ms Von Der Muhll said.

In a remark so vulgar that it was little reported in France, the Italian undersecretary for foreign affairs, Manlio Di Stefano, recently said French president Emmanuel Macron “suffers from the syndrome of the small penis”.

Mr Di Stefano is part of the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) whose leader, Luigi Di Maio, is a deputy prime minister and minister for labour.

Matteo Salvini, the head of the far right League, interior minister and the strongman in the Italian government, said recently that he felt sorry for “millions of men and women in France who live with a very bad government and a very bad president of the republic”.