Italian, Austrian ministers speak amid citizenship tensions

Italy's foreign minister held a phone call with his Austrian counterpart following tensions between the countries over the new Austrian government's plan to offer citizenship to mostly German-speakers in the South Tyrol region of Italy.

Italy's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday that Angelino Alfano expressed appreciation to Karin Kneissl that the Austrian chancellor has offered reassurances that any initiatives involving Italy would be taken in cooperation with Rome.

South Tyrol, known as Alto Adige in Italian, was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until after World War I. Residents voted after World War II to remain part of Italy, but tensions with Rome and Italian-speakers continued for decades.

Some 70 percent of South Tyrol residents speak German. A further 5 percent speak the Romance language Ladino.