Iraq pullout tops agenda of Prodi-Blair talks

The withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq topped the agenda of a meeting in Rome on Friday between Italy's new Premier Romano Prodi and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Prodi emerged from a working lunch with Blair to tell reporters that Italian and British defense ministers would soon meet to arrange the details of the pullout.

"The decision to withdraw has been taken and so the discussion was about the best way to put it into practice ... so that the situation remains under control and the necessary elements of security are not lost," said the center-left premier.

He stressed that Italian troops in Iraq were under British command and so the withdrawal had to be closely coordinated with Britain.

Italy did not take part in the 2003 U.S.-led war in Iraq but later sent troops for peacekeeping and reconstruction.

Some 2,600 Italian troops are currently serving there as part of a British-led multinational stabilization force in the southern part of the country.

Prodi, who narrowly beat previous premier Silvio Berlusconi at the polls in April, has said Italy will pull out of Iraq by the end of the year.

Source: Xinhua



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