Rome – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Thursday confirmed his planned Friday meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, a statement said, after a conciliatory phone call between the two politicians.
Conte had considered pushing back the visit amid a diplomatic spat that broke out with France after Italy closed its ports to a humanitarian migrant rescue ship earlier this week.
Macron and Conte spoke by telephone on Thursday evening, a statement said.
“President Macron underscored that he did not say anything that was meant to offend Italy or the Italian people,” according to a statement from the Italian prime minister’s office.
“Macron and Conte agreed that with the end-June European Union summit looming, it is necessary that new initiatives are discussed together.”
The Italian government on Wednesday asked for an official apology after French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that Rome’s decision to turn away a rescue boat full of migrants was cynical and irresponsible.
In a Wednesday phone call with Conte, Macron said “he never said anything meant to offend Italy and the Italian people,’’ the Italian government said in a statement.
Macron said he has always been in favour “of more European solidarity with Italy’’ and agreed with Conte on the need to strengthen bilateral and EU cooperation on migration, the Thursday statement added.
The Elysee, the French presidential palace, issued a similar note.
According to both sources, Conte and Macron agreed on the need for a “better European border management and a solidarity mechanism’’ to redistribute incoming asylum seekers across the bloc.
The two leaders also agreed on the need to present new proposals on migration ahead of an EU summit on June 28 to 29, and were to discuss this and other topics of mutual interest during a working lunch.