Italy goes back on Mali conflict support promise

28th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Monday indicated Rome was scrapping plans to provide logistical support for French-led forces in Mali due to a failure among the main parties to reach a political deal ahead of elections next month.

"I asked the leaders of the three parties of the majority to give their views but we did not receive the support we had hoped for," Monti, who is himself running as leader of the coalition of centrist parties, said in an interview with La7 television.

Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola last week said Italy would send a refuelling plane and two transport planes to carry troops and equipment in the conflict against Islamist-led rebels in Mali.

While expressing Italy's "strong support" for the operation, however, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said that "internal political conditions" meant Rome could not offer concrete backing at the moment.

It was not immediately clear whether the change of heart would also include the group of 15 to 24 instructors that Italy is planning to send as part of a European mission to train Malian troops.

© 2013 AFP

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