UK and Italy will continue their cooperation against terrorism
Foreign Secretary William Hague went to Rome yesterday to meet his Italian counterpart Mr. Giulio Terzi, Italian Premier Mr. Monti and the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano.
The state visit followed diplomatic tensions between the two countries after the failed blitz in Nigeria on the 8thMarch, when Franco Lamolinara and Christopher McManus were executed by their captors.
William Hague’s talks were meant to ease strains in traditionally strong Italian-British relations, pledging that London and Rome would review cooperation against terrorism, including anti-kidnapping measures.
Hague said: “We do bring our deep condolences [to the families] about what has happened, […] There is great disappointment of course, in the United Kingdom as well as in Italy, that this hostage rescue operation was not successful.”
“We thought it was the best hope for saving the lives of the hostages in a desperately difficult situation“, Hague told reporters.
Italy’s foreign minister Giulio Terzi made clear Italy’s irritation that it was given no heads-up about the raid.
“I cannot hide the fact that we were strongly disappointed by not being informed before the operation was launched,” Terzi said, “but we all take note also of the aspect of the very difficult situation which existed on the ground, and the very fast development of the circumstances.”
Foreign Minister Terzi and Foreign Secretary Hague discussed the continued threat from terrorism both countries face. Therefore, they confirmed their intention to intensify close co-operation and agreed to establish a UK-Italy High Level Group on terrorism to oversee this work.
Hague said the British-Italian group would “look at the full range of our cooperation and consultation on counterterrorism issues, including counter-kidnap, radicalization, with an eye on strengthening Nigeria’s capacities to tackle the threat posed by terrorism”.