Berlusconi declares he was against NATO intervention in Libya

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, July 7, 2011.

From Lamine Chikhi, Reuters:  Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday he was against NATO intervention in Libya but had to go along with it, an admission that exposed the fragility of the alliance trying to unseat Muammar Gaddafi.

NATO warplanes have been bombing Libya under a U.N. mandate, but the alliance is under mounting strain because of the cost of the operation and the failure, after more than three months, to produce a decisive outcome.

"I was against this measure," Berlusconi said. "I had my hands tied by the vote of the parliament of my country. But I was against and I am against this intervention which will end in a way that no-one knows."

Some of the alliance bombing missions over Libya take off from military airbases in Italy.

There was no suggestion following Berlusconi’s comments that Rome would withdraw the use of the bases.

From James Blitz and Michael Peel, the Financial Times:  Mr Berlusconi indicated in his comments that at the very start of the conflict in March he had been minded to back Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, in her opposition to the war.

He recalled meeting European leaders at a meeting in Paris on March 19 where President Nicolas Sarkozy announced military action “I would have stood with Mrs Merkel as far as this decision to intervene in the no-fly zone is concerned,” he said.  (photo: Reuters)

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