Italy anger at Libyan warning on far-right MP's post

ITALY'S foreign minister yesterday attacked a warning from Libya against appointing a far-right MP to a ministerial post as "intolerable" interference, as political outcry over the issue grows.

The Gaddafi International Foundation, a Libyan charity chaired by Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, warned of "catastrophic repercussions" to bilateral ties if Roberto Calderoli – a maverick MP known for his anti-Islamic rhetoric – becomes Italy's reforms minister as expected.

Massimo D'Alema, the outgoing foreign minister, told Italian television: "I find the interference of a foreign country on the formation of the Italian government intolerable." Franco Frattini, the incoming foreign minister, also called for respect on internal decisions.

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In a newspaper interview published yesterday, he said: "It is up to us to understand the worries of governments and friendly people and listen to their advice.

"But respecting decisions of those elected to the government by their people is a pillar of internal and international democracy."

But Mr D'Alema said that Italy's Arab and Mediterranean partners were viewing the return of the right to power with concern and hoped Mr Calderoli would avoid repeating "past mistakes".

Mr Calderoli, of the Northern League party, which is part of Silvio Berlusconi's new coalition government, angered Muslims in 2006 by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Italy is Libya's main European trade partner and the Italian oil firm ENI holds stakes in pipeline, natural gas and oil projects in Libya. The two nations have also been co-operating to stem the flow of illegal migrants to Italy.

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