Spain hails Italian withdrawal from Iraq
16 March 2005, MADRID- Spain welcomed a decision by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to begin withdrawing the country's troops from Iraq from September.
16 March 2005
MADRID- Spain welcomed a decision by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to begin withdrawing the country's troops from Iraq from September.
The Spanish media saw the approach of Italy's regional elections as prompting the move.
Spain's Socialist government withdrew its own troops, sent in by the previous conservative administration, shortly after taking office last April.
A government source said Madrid "clearly welcomes with joy" news of Berlusconi's announcement.
Spain's government pulled its troops out in line with an electoral pledge, the decision to send them into Iraq having been hugely unpopular with the electorate.
Berlusconi's move to deploy 3,000 troops, making Italy the fourth-largest troop contributor in Iraq, was also massively unpopular at home.
"Berlusconi reacts in time," was how El Mundo daily saw the Italian leader's move.
The paper noted that Berlusconi "is seeking re-election in 2006 and he knew full well that keeping troops in Iraq would pose a serious risk to his chances."
Italy is also holding regional elections next month, and El Mundo opined that his decision showed that "his political noose is greater than the fine speeches which he made to defend his participation in the occupation of Iraq."
For Barcelona-based El Periodico, "Berlusconi has understood, albeit late in the day, that you cannot dismiss public opinion and he is trying to leave Iraq while annoying his friend (US President George W.) Bush as little as
In the opinion of El Pais, "if the withdrawal begins in September as scheduled Berlusconi will arrive at the polls having unburdened himself of an unpopular participation in the (Iraq) conflict."
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news