Leaders of Italy, France discuss Libya, migrants at annual summit

08:47, April 27, 2011      

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (R) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy attend a joint press conference during the annual Italo-French Summit at Villa Madama in Rome, Italy, on April 26, 2011. Berlusconi and Sarkozy agreed Tuesday to ask the European Union for a change in the Schengen Treaty in an effort to ease their countries' tensions over illegal immigration. (Xinhua/Wang Qingqin)

Italy's decision to meet American demands to join NATO air raids in Libya does not mean "bombing," Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday.

After meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at an annual summit, Berlusconi said at a joint news conference that Italian planes would carry out "targeted intervention on individual objectives, not on civilian areas.

"We felt we could not avoid (deeper involvement)," he said, stressing that both leaders of the United States and the anti-Gaddafi Libyan National Council (CNT) had asked for Italy to take part in further military intervention.

"We spoke today to CNT President Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who thanked us for our decision to raise our commitment," Berlusconi said.

Sarkozy said France was "happy" that Italy had decided to join in air strikes in Libya. The Franch president also expressed happiness for Italy's recognition of the Libyan rebels.

The two leaders also talked about Syria situation, saying they will ask the United Nations to set up a commission of inquiry into "the massacre of civilians" during recent anti-government protests in Syria.

Berlusconi and Sarkozy issued a "strong appeal" to Damascus to "stop the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations."

During their meeting, the two leaders also tried to ease tensions over North African migrants. About 26,000 migrants, mostly from Tunisia, have arrived on the southern Italy island of Lampedusa since January when the situation in Tunisia worsened after continuous social instability, which has caused arguments between Italy and France.

Source: Xinhua
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