Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said yesterday his new
government believed the US-led invasion of Iraq had been a "grave
error" and that he would propose withdrawing Italy's troops in
consultation with allies.
"We consider the war in Iraq and the occupation of the country a
grave error," Prodi told the upper house of parliament as he
outlined the program of his new government which was sworn in on
"It has not resolved, but complicated the situation of
security," he said, prompting loud jeering from center-right
Italy's center-left parties opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq
three years ago, but the government of then Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi backed it and then sent in peacekeepers.
Italy has about 3,000 troops in Iraq in peacekeeping roles. They
are already due to be withdrawn in groups before the end of the
"It is the intention of this government to propose to parliament
the return of our troops from Iraq," Prodi said, adding that his
government intended to continue Italy's historically good relations
Prodi did not give a date for a withdrawal, saying a "technical
timeframe" would have to be agreed with all sides involved.
Military experts say the allies would want to spread withdrawal out
over several months.
Canada to extend Afghan mandate
The Canadian parliament narrowly backed a two-year extension of
Canada's Afghan mission to February 2009 on Wednesday, despite
serious misgivings by many opposition legislators.
The House of Commons voted 149-145 in favor of the motion by the
minority Conservative government. It clears the way for Canada to
seek a more prominent leadership role in trying to bring security
A relieved Prime Minister Stephen Harper confessed to reporters
afterward to having been concerned that the vote might fail,
although he had pledged to go ahead with a one-year extension of
the mandate regardless of the outcome.
He also said some had voted no just to oppose his government.
"Support for the mission is a lot stronger than the vote," he told
reporters outside the House.
Canada has close to 2,300 troops near the southern Afghan city
of Kandahar with a mandate to stay through February. But it said it
had come under pressure from NATO partners to commit to a longer
(China Daily May 19, 2006)