Italian Ambassador Fernando Salleo yesterday called for greater recognition for Italy as an opponent of global terrorism.
Mr. Salleo said Italy has played a major role in shutting down terrorist cells in Europe, but has received little recognition.
“Italy has an image problem,” Mr. Salleo said. “There is no favorable [foregin policy] image in the U.S.”
Mr. Salleo was speaking at the Center for Strategic (CSIS) and International Studies where he was promoting today’s visit to Washington by Italian Justice Minister Roberto Castelli.
The ambassador also announced a partnership with CSIS to analyze why Italy has a weak foreign policy presence in the United States.
Mr. Castelli will meet with Attorney General John Ashcroft today to discuss Italy’s role in combatting terrorism.
Mr. Salleo said the meeting will focus on the legal and judicial side of global terrorism and will include a visit to two prisons in the area which are privately operated a system Italy is considering implementing.
Mr. Ashcroft visited Rome in December where he said he appreciated Italy’s support in combatting global terrorism, but that “there was room for improvement.”
Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, shares many of the conservative views of the Bush administration and is seeking a closer relationship with Washington.
Edward Luttwak, a CSIS senior fellow, said Italy was one of the first nations to crack down on suspected terrorist cells following the September 11 attacks on the United States. Mr. Luttwak said Italy struck at the logistical operations of terrorist cells active in Northern Italy as access points for other terrorists based in Europe.
Mr. Luttwak also said that Italy’s quick response in breaking up the cells minimized the threat of further terrorist activity after the United States and Britain struck at Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds in Afghanistan in October.
According to Mr. Luttwak, Italy’s success can be attributed to the fact that it has not been bogged down by the same judicial procedures that other nations, including the United States, had to go through to shut down terrorist operations.
“The purpose of [the research] initiatives is to try to correct the attention deficit disorder,” Mr. Luttwak said. “The U.S.-Italian relationship has an attention deficit disorder when it comes to Italy.”