Di Maio Meets France's Yellow Vests Ahead of European Elections

(Bloomberg) -- Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio met a senior figure in France’s Yellow Vests, trumpeting his support for the protest movement in defiance of President Emmanuel Macron.

Di Maio, who heads the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, held talks Tuesday near Paris with Christophe Chalencon, an organizer from the south of France, Di Maio’s office said in a statement. Also present at the meeting was Alessandro Di Battista, an influential Five Star leader.

The Five Star representatives and Chalencon found “many positions and common values which put at the center of so many battles citizens, social rights, direct democracy and the environment,” the statement said, adding the climate of the talks was one of “great enthusiasm.”

Di Maio’s visit, in the run-up to European Parliament elections due in May, is part of his efforts to find foreign allies across the European Union. Di Maio, who has repeatedly attacked Macron over migration and other issues, last month gave his support to the protesters.

France said at the time that Di Maio should mind his own business. “The priority for the Italian government is to look after the well-being of the Italian people," French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said in Brussels after Di Maio’s comments. "I’m not sure what being interested in the Yellow Vests has to do with the well-being of the Italians.”

The governments in Paris and Rome have been regularly sniping at each other since the populist coalition took power in Italy last year with budget spending and immigration proving the main points of contention.

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