Prodi outlines program, promises shock therapy in Italian economy

Premier Romano Prodi outlined his center-left government's program Thursday, vowing to bring home Italian troops in Iraq and deliver shock therapy to fix the country's struggling economy and poor ethics.

Prodi, addressing the Senate a day before a vote of confidence on his government, presented a platform that promises to reverse years of policies of his conservative predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, both in domestic and international affairs. The conservatives said their opposition in Parliament would be tough.

"We consider the war and occupation in Iraq a grave error that hasn't solved in fact, has complicated the problem of security," Prodi told lawmakers.

"It is therefore the intention of this government to propose to Parliament a pullout of our troops," said Prodi, drawing boos from the conservatives.

Prodi did not give a timetable for the withdrawal of the remaining 2,600 Italian troops, which were sent in by Berlusconi after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to help rebuild the country. But Parliament must vote on the financing of the mission by the end of June.

The Senate speech was the first since Prodi took office Wednesday, when he submitted his Cabinet list to President Giorgio Napolitano and was sworn in along with his ministers. The changeover ended Berlusconi's conservative rule after five years, reports AP.

O.Ch.