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UPDATE 4-Italy contradicts China over possible restart of air traffic

(Recasts, changes headline and dateline, adds Italy's health and foreign ministries, adds PIX)

ROME/SHANGHAI, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Italy on Friday contradicted China's assertions over a possible resumption of flights between the two countries, in a move that could further raise diplomatic tensions after Rome's decision to shut air traffic due to the coronavirus emergency.

China's vice foreign minister, Qin Gang, met Italy's ambassador to China, Luca Ferrari, on Thursday, when they discussed the issue, the Chinese ministry said.

Qin told Ferrari that Italy's decision last week to stop flights without contacting China in advance had caused "great inconvenience" to citizens of both countries.

China added it was "strongly dissatisfied with the overreaction and restrictions", especially as it was trying to bring stranded citizens there home, it said.

China said the ambassador had said Italy was willing to approve some application from Chinese airlines to resume flights, but Italy denied this.

An Italian foreign ministry source said the news, which was reported by the Chinese agency Xinhua, was "groundless", while Health Minister Roberto Speranza wrote on Facebook that "direct air links with China are and remain closed".

Taiwan, which China claims as its own, has expressed anger that the ban included the island too.

On Thursday an Italian national was tested positive for the coronavirus. It is the third confirmed case in the country after two Chinese tourists. (Reporting by Brenda Goh and Angelo Amante; Additional Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei Editing by Himani Sarkar, Robert Birsel and Giles Elgood)