Berlusconi plays down Gaddafi threat against Italy

2011-05-02 12:02

Milan – Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi today sought to play down threats of reprisal by Muammar Gaddafi which he attributed to the Libyan leader’s “disappointment” in Rome.

“I think that (Gaddafi’s) reaction is dictated by the disappointment provoked by Italy and is linked to the friendship treaty” the two countries signed two years ago, the Italian leader told journalists outside a court in Milan where he was due to attend a closed-door hearing on fraud charges.

“I would not attach much importance to this statement,” Berlusconi added, saying Gaddafi’s statement was different from the risk of reprisals posed by yesterday’s killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

“Let’s not put these things on the same level,” he said.

Italy boosted security checks yesterday when Gaddafi threatened to “bring the battle to Italy” after the Italian government’s decision to take part in NATO-led air strikes against his regime.

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said yesterday that Gaddafi’s threat should not be under-estimated and was not just “propaganda”.

Italy was Libya’s colonial ruler from 1911 until World War II and was Libya’s top foreign trade partner before the start of hostilities.

Gaddafi signed a friendship treaty with Berlusconi in 2008, which opened the way for massive mutual investments.

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