Italy’s Foreign Minister is in Baghdad, discussing his country’s plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Massimo d’Alema has confirmed that all Italian soldiers will be home by the end of the year.
Most of Italy’s 2,700-strong contingent are based around the city of Nassiriya. About 1,100 will quit the country over the summer, and the rest by December. There had been renewed pressure on Rome to accelerate the withdrawal, following the deaths of four Italian soldiers in April. Another Italian soldier was killed in a blast on Monday and four others were wounded. The Italian withdrawal was promised by the new leftist Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who described the Iraq war as a grave error. The troops were sent to fight in the war by Silvio Berlusconi, who was a close ally of the US president. Yesterday, following the latest death near Nassiriya, parties in Prodi’s coalition government suggested that even six months was too long to wait for the pull-out.