French President Emmanuel Macron met Italy’s new premier Giuseppe Conte Friday to try to patch up relations after sparks flew between the two countries over Rome’s rejection of a migrant rescue ship.
Conte arrived at the Elysee Palace in Paris for afternoon talks ahead of a press conference, with both smiling as Macron greeted the Italian leader.
Despite efforts by both sides to play down testy exchanges in recent days, the clash underscores deep divisions in Europe over how to handle the massive influx of migrants from across the Mediterranean in recent years.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is embroiled in a showdown with the right wing of her governing coalition, which is demanding that she immediately ditch her liberal migration policy and tighten border controls.
An opinion poll by Infratest Dimap suggests 62 percent of Germans back the tougher stance favored by her interior minister, including turning back undocumented migrants at the border and deporting rejects faster.
Merkel has pleaded for more time to negotiate with her European partners on a common response ahead of an EU summit on June 28-29.— AFP