IS, foreign fighters in the crosshairs at Rome summit

Rome, Feb 14 (IANS/AKI) Foreign fighters for IS are the focus of a summit of 15 Defence Ministers from the global coalition against the Islamic State jihadist group taking place here on Tuesday, at which the US is reportedly asking Italy to send more Carabinieri police to war-wracked Syria and possibly to Iraq.

During the meeting at Villa Madama, the ministers are also examining the reconstruction of areas of Syria and Iraq liberated from IS. The summit is being attended by US Defence Secretary James Mattis, who will also have a bilateral meeting with Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

On Monday, Mattis held talks in Rome with Italy’s Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti “on the close defence alliance between the US and Italy, built on a long history of mutual respect and shared values,” the US Defense Department said.

“Relations between Italy and the US are excellent. We aim to strengthen our joint commitments in the area of defence and international security,” Pinotti said in a statement

Discussions between Pinotti and Mattis also covered the international arena, the ongoing battle against IS and other terrorist groups, with special reference to the Mediterranean region, as well as bilateral ties and industrial cooperation, the statement said.

Mattis praised Italy’s contribution in various conflict zones around the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq. He hailed Italy’s prominent role and “maximum commitment and cooperation in tackling security threats” in the Mediterranean and in turmoil-wracked Libya.

“Italy has significant historical experience and shares with us a common interest in forming a stable, united government there (in Libya),” the US Defense Department said.

Mattis is on seven-day trip to Europe this week “to re-affirm key partnerships and alliances”.

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