Italy's deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio welcomed France's announcement that its envoy Christian Masset was returning to Rome on Friday following his recall last week amid the most significant diplomatic spat since World War II.
"I am happy that France's ambassador is returning to Italy and will ask for a meeting with him. I welcome him back," said Di Maio after the European affairs minsters Nathalie Loiseau's announced Masset's return.
France recalled Masset to Paris for consultations on 7 February, a move French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said was promoted by months of “unfounded attacks” from Di Maio and his co-deputy premier Matteo Salvini, who have heavily criticised President Emmanuel Macron’s economic and migration policies.
But the trigger for last week's crisis appeared to be Di Maio’s meeting in a Paris suburb earlier this month with members of the 'yellow vest' protest movement who are fielding candidates for the European Parliament elections in May.
The meeting between Di Maio and a delegation from his anti-establishment 5 Star Movement with the 'yellow vests' violated “the most elementary diplomacy” because it was unannounced, Griveaux said.
Masset's return to Rome came after a phone call on Tuesday between Macron and Italy's president Sergio Mattarella “reaffirmed the importance” of Franco-Italian ties, the Elysee Palace said in a statement
Populist premier Giuseppe Conte praised the role played by Mattarella in the crisis but defended Di Maio's meeting with the 'yellow vests' saying he had made trip as 5 Star leader, not as a member of the government.
Di Maio is also Italy's industry and welfare ministry as well as deputy premier.