PARIS/ROME - France recalled its ambassador to Italy on Thursday, a remarkable diplomatic split between neighbours and European Union allies, after what it described as "repeated, baseless" attacks by Italian political leaders against France.
The rupture, the first withdrawal of a French envoy to Rome since World War Two, was announced by the foreign ministry.
Diplomats said Paris acted after a series of insults from Italy, capped by Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio's decision this week to meet with members of France's "yellow vest" movement, which has mounted a months-long and sometimes violent campaign against Macron.
"France has been, for several months, the target of repeated, baseless attacks and outrageous statements," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "Having disagreements is one thing, but manipulating the relationship for electoral aims is another."
Di Maio, head of the anti-establishment 5-Star movement, which is in a governing coalition with the far-right League, defended his meeting with the "yellow vests", and drew a distinction between Macron and the French people.