Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Monday blamed French domestic politics for the dispute with Paris over immigration, warning against using other governments to score domestic points.

A diplomatic crisis erupted Thursday between the two pivotal countries in the European Union, after statements by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanan, in which he considered that Meloni was incapable of solving the immigration problem in her country.

In the wake of Darmann’s comments, which suggested similarities between Meloni and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Taiani demanded an apology and canceled a previously scheduled visit to Paris.

In response to a question from reporters on Monday whether French President Emmanuel Macron had contacted her, Meloni replied, “I spoke to Macron the day before” the dispute broke out.

She added that the difference in the “private and public dialogues” between Rome and Paris “suggests to me that it is a French internal political issue”.

Meloni advised Paris to “be careful about using other governments to settle domestic political scores”.

The French government sought to de-escalate tensions between the two countries over immigration on Friday, saying Rome was an “essential partner”.

The centrist French government, led by Macron, has repeatedly clashed with successive Italian governments over the issue of immigration, especially over the way to manage their common land borders and receive migrants rescued in the Mediterranean.

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