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Monday, September 17 4:05 AM SGT Italian defence minister rules out Italian troop role

Italian defence minister rules out Italian troop role

ROME, Sept 16 (AFP) -

Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino on Sunday said Italian troops would not take part in any US retaliation after the terror attacks and that use of the term "war" was inappropriate.

"The term 'war' is inappropriate. It is not a conflict between states and Italian troops will not go anywhere," Martino told the RAI television station.

"I feel I am in a position to categorically exclude calling on the army," he said.

The defence minister warned that "nobody had better strike randomly," adding that 100,000 Italian soldiers were involved in various peacekeeping missions abroad.

He said the US would certainly take military action once the perpetrators of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon had been identified, and only then "will we see what we are called upon to do."

Asked about Saudi-born extremist Osama bin Laden's role in the attacks, Martino said "the idea that one man is behind this tragedy is misguided."

In an interview with the daily Il Messaggero published Sunday, Martino urged the US not to act alone in the event of a military operation.

"As was the case during the Gulf War, the idea that the United States should not act alone but should build a coalition and seek approval from the United Nations is gaining ground."

Martino said he favoured the build-up of a coalition prior to any military riposte "for the obvious reasons that by doing so the operation would be successful."

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