President Emmanuel Macron will Tuesday hold talks in Paris with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the French presidency said, as both sides seek to smooth a series of disputes that have frayed ties since she took the reins of Italy’s government last year.
Centrist Macron, who regards himself as a bulwark against the far-right, is not a natural political bedfellow of Meloni who leads her country’s most far-right coalition since World War II.
Macron had in 2021 signed a major bilateral cooperation treaty with Meloni’s predecessor Mario Draghi, the former European Central Bank chief with whom he had a close political relationship.
The two leaders will discuss implementing the treaty as well as preparing for forthcoming EU and NATO summits this month and in July, said a French presidential official, asking not to be named.
It will be Meloni’s first visit to France since her election in 2022.
The two leaders had met informally in Rome just after, then in bilateral meetings on the sidelines of international summits.
Migration policy has been a sticking point between the two countries since a November 2022 incident that saw Meloni refuse to allow a humanitarian ship carrying 230 migrants to dock in Italy.
The ship was allowed to dock in France, but Paris denounced Rome’s “unacceptable” behaviour and suspended plans to receive 3,500 migrants from Italy.
At the time, Meloni denounced France’s reaction as “aggressive” and “unjustified”.
In February, she slammed Macron’s invitation to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to visit Paris on the eve of a European summit as “inappropriate”.
Meloni is in Paris to attend a conference where she will promote the candidacy of Rome to host the 2030 Expo, where it faces competition from Busan in South Korea, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Ukraine’s Odesa.
All the bidders are keen to have French support, with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting Macron last Friday and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol also due at the Elysee on Tuesday.
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