Italian premier Giuseppe Conte talks to journalists outside Chigi Palace's Premier office, in Rome Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Intent on his government’s survival, Premier Giuseppe Conte says the coalition will let “national” interests determine if an Alpine rail tunnel should be built. The populist government’s main partner, the 5-Star Movement, fiercely opposes the high-speed TAV rail tunnel, which is meant to speed travel between France and Italy. (Riccardo Antimiani/ANSA via AP)

Italy standoff over high-speed rail to France eases

March 09, 2019 - 11:07 am

ROME (AP) — Italy's coalition partners appear to have temporarily resolved a dispute over the high-speed rail line to France, with an agreement to let new contract bids go out on schedule but without any financial commitments.

The standoff between the 5-Star Movement, which opposes the tunnel project, and the League which wants it, had sparked talk of a government crisis and the loss of about 300 million euros in European Union funding.

Premier Giuseppe Conte posted an exchange of letters Saturday on Facebook in which he informed the Italian-French company building the Turin-Lyon tunnel, TELT, saying it should stop all activity implicating financial commitments until Italy renegotiates the deal.

TELT responded saying it would go ahead and invite construction firms to bid for contracts as scheduled Monday, but delaying financing.