Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Italy Won't Oppose Base Expansion

Italy will not oppose the expansion of a U.S. military base in the northern city of Vicenza, Premier Romano Prodi said, according to Italian news agencies, despite protests by area residents. Prodi, who was in Romania, told Italian reporters traveling with him that his government had no reason not to approve the expansion, which has already been approved by the city council in Vicenza, according to the reports.The U.S. base in Vicenza has about 2,600 active duty military personnel. The expansion at the nearby Dal Molin airport would allow the military to move four battalions now based in Germany - adding another 1,600 active duty personnel. However, the project has prompted protests by residents, who are mostly concerned about traffic, the use of local resources including water and gas, and the threat of a terror attack. Less than a week ago, U.S. Ambassador Ronald P. Spogli visited Vicenza and met with local leaders there. La Repubblica daily reported that Spogli decided to go to Vicenza after hearing that the Italian government was inclined to veto the expansion.

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