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Italy Removes Aircraft Carrier from Libya Campaign

Jul. 7, 2011 - 03:45AM   |  
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ROME - Italy is withdrawing its aircraft carrier the Garibaldi from NATO's operation in Libya to cut 80 million euros ($114 million) in costs, a minister announced July 6.

They also planned to pull out another ship from the mission.

"We have cut back costs in Libya, from 142 million euros forecast in the first half of the year to less than 60 million for the second half," Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said after a government meeting.

The news came after Italy's Cabinet moved to cut spending military spending.

The plan had been drawn up to pull the Garibaldi, its three fighter jets and 1,000 personnel out of the mission as they were "no longer necessary", La Russa said.

The Garibaldi would be replaced by a smaller boat and other planes from military bases would be used, he added.

Another ship would also be withdrawn from the mission as well, he added without elaborating.

Italy has several ships and eight planes deployed in NATO's mission against Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Seven of its air bases are also used by other members of the coalition.

With Italy grappling a financial crisis that has forced it to pass a series of austerity cuts, the government on July 6 said it had decided to gradually reduce its military operations abroad.

Italy has troops deployed in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Kosovo and is involved in NATO's military operations in Libya, despite the objections of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, Berlusconi's coalition ally.

The League, lead by populist Umberto Bossi, has called for a dramatic reduction in Italy's military presence abroad to free up public funds.

Some 7,200 Italian troops were deployed in 28 countries as of June 30, according to the defense ministry website: 4,200 troops in Afghanistan, 1,700 in Lebanon and 650 in the Balkans.

The finance ministry said July 6 it aimed to save 40 billion euros ($57.1 billion) over the next four years.

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