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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 19:46 GMT
Italian PM defends foreign policy
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi
If the government loses the vote it will have to resign
Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi has defended his foreign policy, including troop commitment to Afghanistan, ahead of a confidence vote.

He addressed the Upper House, or Senate, a day before it decides whether his nine-month old government should continue in power.

Mr Prodi lost a foreign policy vote last week but was asked to stay on by President Giorgio Napolitano.

Radical leftists in his coalition are against keeping troops in Afghanistan.

During his address, Mr Prodi spoke briefly about the government's defeat on its foreign policy last week.

"Differences within government are normal. There will be room for confrontation in the future, but the parties must respect the general interests of the government," he said.

He told senators he had put Italy at the heart of Europe, but added that the United States and Nato were its natural complement.

Wednesday's vote is expected to be tight.

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Rome says despite the government having only a one seat majority, it seems that several independent senators have agreed to support Mr Prodi .

If he survives the vote, Mr Prodi will then face a confidence vote in the lower house, where he has a comfortable majority.

If he loses, the government will have to resign, which could lead to early elections for what would be Italy's 62nd post-war government.

Italian prime minister faces his government's critics

Profile: Romano Prodi
22 Feb 07 |  Europe
Italian PM hands in resignation
21 Feb 07 |  Europe

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