The phone conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian President Sergio Mattarella comes amid rising tensions between the two countries.

“[Macron] has spoken on the phone with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, following the recall for consultations of the French Ambassador to Italy,” a statement from the Elysee published by the Italian government said.

The relationship between the two countries has been upheld “by an exceptional historic, economic, cultural and human connection”, the statement added.

“France and Italy, which have built Europe together, have a special responsibility to operate together to defend and relaunch the European Union.”

Last week, France recalled its ambassador from Rome after Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio met with leaders of the French anti-government “yellow vest” movement in Paris.

The move saw Franco-Italian relations plummet to their lowest since the end of World War II.

Di Maio’s coalition partner, Matteo Salvini of the far-right League, on Monday signalled his willingness to talk to ease the spat with France following a months-long war on words.

The conversation between the two heads of state on Tuesday was seen as another step in the right direction.

 “The relationship between Italy and France is so solid from a historic, cultural and economic standpoint that they certainly cannot be called into question because [of] single episodes,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.

“[The presidents] reaffirmed the importance of Franco-Italian relations, fostered on historic, economic and cultural ties,” the French presidency said.