US hopes Italy will stay ‘strong’ NATO member

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Brussels, April 27 (IANS/AKI) United States Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey on Thursday said she hoped Italy would remain “a strong member” of the North Atlantic Alliance whatever the political hue of the new government formed after last month’s inconclusive election.

“Of course I hope Italy he will remain a strong member of NATO, as it is today,” Bailey told reporters here.

Remarks from the spokespeople of Italy’s main political forces since the March 4 national polls had given no indication of waning support for NATO, she said.

“We appreciate Italy in particular its prominent role in Afghanistan… it is doing a great job there.”

Bailey said she hoped Italians realised the important “umbrella of security” provided by NATO.

“I would also emphasis that the South is a new NATO priority.

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“It something Italy has requested, like Spain and Turkey,” Bailey said, adding that Italy had shown “strong leadership” in getting NATO to focus more on the South.

“NATO members agreed to this unanimously,” she noted.

No party or political bloc won a clear parliamentary majority in Italy’s March ballot in which populist, eurosceptic parties made strong gains.

Consultations with Italy’s main parties on a possible coalition government are ongoing.

–IANS/AKI

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