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UPDATED: 09:20, May 20, 2006
U.S. plays down Italy's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq
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The United States tried on Friday to put on a brave face on Italy's decision to withdraw its troops out of Iraq and said the decision was no particular surprising news to anybody.

"This is a position that Italy has had for some time, so I do not think that comes as particular surprising news to anybody," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said at a briefing.

"We appreciate the contributions that Italy has made to the efforts in Iraq. Italian blood has been spilled in Iraq and we honor the sacrifice of the Italian people in helping to build a free and prosperous Iraq," McCormack said.

McCormack made the comments after new Italian Premier Romano Prodi said on Thursday that the US-led war on Iraq was a "grave error" and that the 2,600 Italian troops serving in Iraq now would be withdrawn from the country as soon as possible.

The previous Italian government headed by Silvio Berlusconi, a strong U.S. ally, has already pledged to pull out by the end of 2006, a deadline which Prodi said during election campaigning that he would respect.

Source: Xinhua

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