France has recalled its ambassador to Italy after what it claimed were the most provocative verbal attacks from the country's leaders since the Second World War.
On Friday (NZ Time), the French foreign office issued a statement questioning the Italian Government's intentions towards France after a series of comments from Italy's two deputy Prime Ministers.
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In recent months, the two right-wing deputy Prime Ministers, Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, have made several scathing remarks towards French President Emmanuel Macron, relating to immigration and the yellow vest demonstrations.
Mr Di Maio met with yellow vest leaders this week as they seek to run in European parliament elections, saying that a "new Europe is being born of the yellow vests" and the "wind of change has crossed the alps".
The so-called yellow vest protesters have been demonstrating throughout Paris and other French cities against high living costs and the perceived indifference of Mr Macron towards their issues.
France called the comments provocative and said they showed a "lack of respect for democratic choice by a nation that is our friend and ally".
"For several months, France has been the target of repeated accusations, baseless attacks and outrageous remarks... unprecedented since the end of World War II," the country's statement said.
"The European election campaign is no justification for a lack of respect toward any nation or its democracy."
France said in light of "this unprecedented situation" it would recall its ambassador for "consultations", and called on Italy to restore its relationship based on friendship.
Mr Salvini responded to the statement by saying that the Italian Government didn't want to fall out with France and that it would be open for a meeting with Mr Macron.
But he also called on France to end border checks blocking traffic, send back 15 Italian left-wing militants who were taking refuge in France, and for French police to stop forcing migrants back into Italy.