Italy seeks info from US in drone strike hostage death

Author: Associated Press
Published: Updated:

ROME (AP) – Italy said Friday it wanted more information from the United States about how an Italian aid worker was killed in a U.S. drone strike on the Afghan-Pakistan border as officials sought to explain why it took three months to be told about the “tragic error.”

Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told Parliament in a hastily scheduled briefing that in an inaccessible war zone, where hostage-taking is frequent, it took that long for U.S. intelligence to verify Giovanni Lo Porto had been killed.

President Barack Obama on Thursday announced the death of Lo Porto and an American hostage during a mid-January airstrike on a suspected al-Qaida target.

“The U.S. government confirmed that there was no reason to believe that the two hostages were in the compound,” Gentiloni said.

Gentiloni said Obama phoned Premier Matteo Renzi late Wednesday night with the confirmation, and that Lo Porto’s family was informed the following morning.

He said Italy took note of Obama’s “maximum transparency” in assuming responsibility for the deaths but that Italy wanted more information about what happened. Just last week, Obama and Renzi met in Washington.

“We want to assure that Italy will find the way to honor the memory of Giovanni,” Gentiloni said. “And we will work to acquire the maximum additional information possible on the circumstances of the tragic error recognized yesterday by President Obama.”

He stressed, though, that Italy would continue to work with its allies in the fight against terrorism.

Late Thursday, Renzi also sought to defray any criticism of Washington’s handling of the release of information, saying there was no need for polemics.

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