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May 23, 2019

Italy economy minister cancels Paris meeting over migrant spat

Italy economy minister cancels Paris meeting over migrant spat
'Italy's Economy Minister Giovanni Tria (R) and Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio pictured during the swearing-in ceremony for the new government at Quirinale Palace in Rome on June 1, 2018' - By: AFP/File Alberto PIZZOLI

Italy's Economy Minister Giovanni Tria cancelled a meeting with his French counterpart in Paris on Wednesday as a diplomatic row spiralled over Rome's refusal to take in an overcrowded migrant ship.

"The minister #GiovanniTria has cancelled his meeting with the French Minister of the Economy and Finance (Bruno) #LeMaire," his ministry said on Twitter.

The tweet confirmed that Tria's meeting with German Economy Minister Olaf Scholz scheduled for Thursday would go ahead in Berlin.

"The trip was cancelled at the Italians' request and we regret it," Le Maire responded, adding that he had "many important subjects to discuss with Mr Tria" ahead of a EU summit at the end of June.

"We hope this meeting will be able to take place very quickly," he said in a ministry statement.

Tria's decision comes after Rome demanded an official apology from France over its comments on Italy's treatment of the Aquarius vessel that was left in limbo in the Mediterranean after saving 629 people off Libya.

Frence President Emmanuel Macron had blasted Italy for its "cynicism and irresponsibility" in refusing to allow the migrant ship carrying 629 migrants to dock at its ports.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte -- who is due to meet Macron in Paris on Friday -- "would be right not to go to France" should such an apology not arrive.

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