US and Italy about killing of an Italian agent

The United States and Italy on Friday disagreed on the conclusions of a joint investigation into the killing of an Italian agent by U.S. troops in Iraq, further straining ties between the two allies.

U.S. soldiers killed Italian intelligence officer &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Nicola Calipari on March 4 when they opened fire on a car heading for Baghdad airport in which he was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had just been released by kidnappers.

U.S. officials said the soldiers followed their rules of engagement in firing on the car as it moved toward a checkpoint and should not be punished. Italy disputed this and left open the possibility of pursuing the matter in the courts.

"The investigators did not arrive at shared final conclusions even though, after examining jointly the evidence, they did agree on facts, findings and recommendations on numerous issues," the United States and Italy said in a joint statement issued by the State Department. The United States put the best face on what has been a major embarrassment for the Bush administration, saying the two governments remained allies and friends despite the incident.

State Department spokesman &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Adam Ereli said the United States and Italy disagreed on some facts as well as on the probe's conclusions and said no joint report would be issued, tells Reuters.

According to the New York Times, tensions between Italy and the United States, close friends and allies in Iraq, had been rising over the inquiry into the death of the intelligence agent, Nicola Calipari, in Baghdad. The shooting fueled the growing opposition in Italy to that country's involvement in the Iraq war, and put increasing pressure on Mr. Berlusconi to withdraw Italy's estimated 3,000 troops from Iraq. The joint statement strived to underline the strength of the ties between the two countries.

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