ROME - Italy said July 6 it has decided to gradually reduce its military operations abroad, as the government grapples with a financial crisis which has forced it to pass a series of austerity cuts.
The country's Supreme Defense Council will "make all possible amendments to contingents... along with other international institutions and in keeping with developments on the ground," it said in a statement.
The council - which includes Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and President Giorgio Napolitano - said that the decision was driven by "a reduction in the available financial resources."
Italy has troops deployed in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Kosovo and is involved in NATO's military operations in Libya, much to the chagrin of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, Berlusconi's coalition ally.
As regards the mission in Libya in particular, the council called on the international community "to evaluate possible action to be taken in the post-conflict situation."
The League, lead by populist Umberto Bossi, has called for a dramatic reduction in Italy's military efforts in order to free up funds needed by a country in the thralls of a biting economic crisis.
Italy's role in the Libya mission is one of the main subjects of contention between Berlusconi and his Northern allies.
Last week the government adopted a bill for austerity cuts of around 47 billion euros ($67 billion) by 2014 in order to reassure skittish markets who fear the economic crisis in Greek may spread to Italy.