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Meloni, Macron talk migrant crisis, Ukraine at French presidential palace

  • Right-wing Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni met with centrist French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday at the presidential palace in Paris.
  • Macron and Meloni’s meeting primarily focused on addressing the Mediterranean’s growing migrant crisis, as well as fortifying their countries’ support for Ukraine.
  • “There is no doubt that Italy and France will continue to support Ukraine as long as this is necessary,” Meloni said, noting that without it, Western Europe would be “facing a much more chaotic world, a world in which war is coming closer to home.”

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni and French President Emmanuel Macron buried the latest dispute between their countries Tuesday during a meeting at which they seemed to agree on all topics, from military support for Ukraine to the need to slow down migration across the Mediterranean Sea.

One of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, which occurred off southern Greece last week, has injected new urgency into European Union efforts to fix the 27-nation bloc’s immigration and asylum policies.

After his talks with Meloni at the French presidential palace, the centrist Macron praised the “good work and coordination between our two countries″ on migration, including to “work better with the countries of origin and transit in order to avoid incoming flows.″

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Meloni, whose politics lean to the far right, described Italy and France as “two interconnected countries, two important and crucial nations. They are protagonists in Europe and now, more than ever, need to dialogue because we have many common interests.”

The Italian leader’s visit to France — and warm handshake with Macron — came weeks after Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani abruptly canceled a visit to Paris to protest the French interior minister’s criticism of Italy’s approach to migration.

Last month, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin accused Meloni of being “incapable of resolving the migration problems for which she was elected.”

Giorgia Meloni, Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni on Tuesday at the presidential palace in Paris. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)

Italy and France have sparred over migration since Meloni took office last year as Italy’s first far-right leader since World War II.

Her government’s hard-line migration policies included standoffs with humanitarian rescue ships. Tensions spiked in the fall after Italy forced France’s hand to accept a migrant rescue ship with 234 people on board after Italy had refused the Ocean Viking port for weeks.

The French and Italian foreign ministers met last month in Rome to resume collaboration.

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At Tuesday’s meeting, Meloni and Macron also celebrated an Italian-French anti-missile system used in Ukraine, the SAMP/T or Mamba system. Macron said it “is now deployed and operational in Ukraine, protecting key installations and lives.” The delivery of the system to Kyiv was announced by Paris and Rome in February.

“There is no doubt that Italy and France will continue to support Ukraine as long as this is necessary,” Meloni said. Otherwise, she said, “We would be facing a much more chaotic world, a world in which war is coming closer to home. What the Ukrainians are doing is also defending our freedom.”

Their talks were aimed at preparing for an EU summit this month in Brussels and a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month, according to the French presidency.

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Meloni was also in Paris to garner support for Italy’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo, at a key meeting Tuesday of the Paris-based International Bureau of Exhibitions.

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