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American Forces Press Service

Italy Reaffirms Stance with U.S. Against Terror

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2005 Terrorists will not terrorize Italy, Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino said during a press conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today.

Rumsfeld said that Italy has shown a great deal of courage and vision in the war against on terror.

Italy and the United States agree on the need to defeat violent extremism, Rumsfeld said. "(The terrorists) know they can't win a conventional conflict," the secretary said. "But they do hope to damage free people by terrorizing their citizens, by hoping that public opinion will force the leaders of free countries to accommodate or retreat, (and) by undermining alliances and trying to pick-off countries from the global coalition against terrorism one at a time. Those efforts will fail."

Martino nodded often as Rumsfeld ticked off the terrorists' goals. The prime minister said he told Rumsfeld that the terrorists want to weaken the resolve and determination of free nations, "and they are not going to succeed."

Italy is deeply involved in the struggle against terror. Italy has a brigade of paratroopers in Iraq and more soldiers involved with training Iraqi security forces. Italy will take over command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in August. Last month, the Italians took over command of the provincial reconstruction team in Herat, Afghanistan. Finally, Italy is in command of international efforts in Bosnia and Kosovo. Rumsfeld called these "an indication of the country's commitment to peace and stability in the world."

Martino told reporters that Italian forces will remain in Iraq as long a necessary and "not one day more, certainly not one day less." He said Italy will not make any unilateral decision regarding its presence in Iraq. "We will always work in agreement with our allies and the government of Iraq," he said.

Violent extremists "are trying to terrorize all of us, but we refuse to be terrorized," the minister said.

Rumsfeld and Martino expressed support and admiration for the people of Great Britain as they deal with the aftermath of July 7 terrorist attacks in London. "The world has been impressed, though not surprised, by the British people's gritty resilience," Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld said he still doesn't know the answer to the basic question of the war on terror: Is the coalition killing terrorists faster than extremist "madrasas," Islamic schools, are turning them out?

"There is no way for anyone to know what is happening all across the globe among the extremist element that is financing, recruiting, training and then deploying murderers," he said. "I believe that progress is being made, but I wouldn't think anyone could answer the question. It continues to be a question I think about and worry about."

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