Prodi: Italy will take active role in Middle East

Premier Romano Prodi said Tuesday that Italy would take an active role in the Middle East peace process. He spoke before a confidence vote on his newly installed center-left government. Rome will "resume an active role in the peacemaking policy in the Middle East," Prodi told lawmakers.

Prodi also said Italy's commitment to fight terror is "firm and complete." "It is carried out in close cooperation with our European partners and the United States," he said. Prodi is expected to comfortably win the vote in the Chamber of Deputies, where his center-left coalition controls about 55 percent of seats. Last week Prodi won the vote in the Senate, where his forces have a razor-thin edge over Silvio Berlusconi's conservatives.

In outlining his program before the Senate last week, Prodi vowed to bring home Italian troops in Iraq and apply shock therapy to fix the country's ailing economy. After the votes of confidence, the government can finally get to work, more than six weeks since the April 9-10 elections that ended Berlusconi's rule after five years.

The election was among the closest in modern Italy. A check of contested ballots and the need to elect a new president who has the power to give the nod to form a government delayed the changeover. Prodi last week formed his government and was sworn in with his ministers, reports the AP.