France's Le Pen wants Salvini to form populist EU group

Far-right leader of the National Rally party Marine Le Pen, attends a media conference for the upcoming European elections next month in Strasbourg, e

Far-right leader of the National Rally party Marine Le Pen, attends a media conference for the upcoming European elections next month in Strasbourg, e

Far-right leader of the National Rally party Marine Le Pen, speaks during a media conference for the upcoming European elections next month in Strasbo

Far-right leader of the National Rally party Marine Le Pen, speaks during a media conference for the upcoming European elections next month in Strasbo

Far-right leader of the National Rally party Marine Le Pen, smiles as she attends a media conference for the upcoming European elections next month in

Far-right leader of the National Rally party Marine Le Pen, smiles as she attends a media conference for the upcoming European elections next month in

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — France's Marine Le Pen, one of the leading voices of the far right in the European Union, is throwing her political weight behind Italian hard-line interior minister Matteo Salvini to set up a major populist group in the EU legislature after next month's elections.

The head of France's National Rally party said Monday that "we have mandated Matteo Salvini ... to try to build this very big group of the Defense of European Nations."

Even though far-right populist parties sometimes have widely diverging stances on issues, Le Pen says there is more that unites them than divides them.

Currently, populist parties are spread across different groups in the legislature, such as Christian Democrat and Socialist groupings. Some, like Le Pen's party, have long stood alone in the legislature.