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Italy Wants US to Press Israel, Rethink Afghan War
Published on Friday, November 10, 2006 by Reuters
Italy Wants US to Press Israel, Rethink Afghan War
by Phil Stewart
Italy's Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema called on the United States on Friday to refocus its foreign policy following midterm elections, saying it was time to stand up to Israeli hawks over the Palestinian conflict.

D'Alema, on the eve of trip to Kabul, also called for a review and "relaunch" of international strategy in Afghanistan giving more weight to non-military solutions to the conflict.

"There is a need for a strong relaunch of the international initiative (in Afghanistan), and perhaps also a rethinking of the line of actions," D'Alema, who leads a leftist part in the ruling center-left coalition, told L'Unita newspaper.

He ruled out a pullout of Italian troops, however, saying: "I don't see how one can leave Afghanistan in this situation."

D'Alema will arrive in Kabul on Saturday for talks with Afghanistan government leaders.

A staunch critic of the Iraq war, D'Alema said he did not expect a sudden shift in President George W. Bush's foreign policy following his party's defeat in mid-term elections.

But he called on Bush to press Israel, where he said the military was lashing out in Gaza to prove its might after failing to hurt Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"I'm referring to a government weakened from the Lebanon conflict, pressed by the right, with the accusation of not being determined enough in its military operation," he said.

He said the United States should make the resolving the Palestinian conflict its priority.

"Until now, the Bush administration has always held that it was an issue that it couldn't touch because, in essence, it could not disturb Israel," D'Alema said.

"There is a dramatic situation, full of risks for a disintegration of the Palestinian society, with destabilizing effects for the entire area. And there must be action to push Israel."

Speaking about Iraq, D'Alema said there was no easy solution, adding that negotiations would eventually be needed with groups too often "simplistically" branded terrorists in order to isolate imported al Qaeda fighters.

© Reuters 2006


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