Italy's Di Maio says meeting France's yellow vests was legitimate

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio attends the new income support scheme known as the "citizens' income" presentation in Rome, Italy, February 4 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said his meeting with France’s “yellow vest” activists this week was legitimate and not meant as an act of provocation, after France recalled its ambassador to Rome on Thursday.

“To me that meeting was not a provocation against the current French government, but instead an important meeting with a political force with whom we share quite a lot, including the need for direct democracy to give more power to citizens,” Di Maio wrote on Facebook.

Calling the meeting “fully legitimate”, Di Maio said: “I have the right to dialogue with other political forces that represent the French people.”

He added that Italy was a friend and ally of the French people and he was willing to meet the Paris government to resolve differences.

Reporting by Steve Scherer