1 thought on “US wars kill Afghan and Iraqi civilians, cartoon

  1. 2007-05-22 15:58
    Afghanistan: Rome cold on Bush call
    ‘We respond to parliament, no one else, ‘ FM says

    ISLAMABAD (ANSA) – Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema issued a cold response on Tuesday to US President George Bush’s call to NATO allies in Afghanistan to help shoulder the burden of fighting the Taliban.

    Speaking in Pakistan a day after he visited Italian peacekeepers in Kabul, D’Alema said that the issue of how Italian troops should be deployed in Afghanistan was a matter for the nation’s parliament.

    “Our armed forces act on the basis of decisions made by the Italian parliament, not by other people. We respond to parliament and no one else,” he said.

    President Bush said on Monday that he intended to press NATO allies to “share” the risks of the anti-Taliban operations, stressing that there could be no distinctions between the soldiers in the NATO-led ISAF stabilisation force.

    At present US and British soldiers handle most of the combat operations. The rules of engagement under which Italian and other European contingents operate prevent them from taking part.

    This issue is expected to be raised when President Bush visits Italy on June 9 for talks with Premier Romano Prodi and other ministers.

    But Italy is known to be against taking part in any offensive action in Afghanistan and has already criticised the US force in the country for the number of civilian casualties that anti-Taliban operations have caused.

    “The loss of civilian lives is unacceptable and at the same time not very useful if we want to capture the hearts and minds of the population,” D’Alema said.

    ‘NOT AIMED AT ITALY’.

    Defence Minister Arturo Parisi said Bush’s remarks on Monday were “not aimed at Italy”.

    “Italy is doing its part in Afghanistan, just as it is in Lebanon and the Balkans. I don’t think anyone can question this,” he added.

    Italy’s presence in Afghanistan is also a source of tension in Prodi’s centre-left coalition, with some leftwingers keen for Italian troops to be pulled out.

    Communists and pacifists argue that the soldiers were sent to take part in a peacekeeping mission and that the situation is now practically one of war.

    Despite these feelings, centre left senators voted in March to keep the Italian contingent in Afghanistan for at least another six months.

    Rome is sending helicopters and tanks to Afghanistan to protect its peacekeeping contingent against a growing wave of attacks by the Taliban. An extra 145 soldiers will also be sent to operate and maintain the new equipment. Parisi said the reinforcements should increase the contingent’s security, at least in part, through a “deterrent effect”.

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