Salvini not xenophobic or racist: PM
Rome, Oct 23 (IANS/AKI) Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has defended anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who leads the far-right League party, rejecting accusations that he was racist or xenophobic.
"I often meet Salvini and exchange ideas. He's been called a racist and xenophobe but I have never encountered a trace of this," Conte told reporters at the Foreign Press Association here on Monday.
"The truth is that there has been a change in immigration policy. But the security degree not abolish the right to asylum or international protection," Conte went on.
Conte was referring to decree issued by the populist government in early October which toughens the rules for refugees and asylum-seekers and has been widely criticised on human rights grounds.
Dubbed the 'Salvini decree', the measures must be voted into law by the Italian Parliament with 60 days.