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Italian PM raises spy claims at Kerry talks

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Prime Minister Enrico Letta discussed claims of US snooping on Italian communications with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday during talks in Rome, a government spokeswoman said.

"The question was raised about the need to verify the truthfulness of the allegations that are circulating," the spokeswoman told AFP.

She said the US side was "cooperative" and had promised to "review" the issue.

The reports have caused anger in Italy and prompted calls for Washington to explain itself.

Kerry and Letta also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria as well as Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the source said.

As the two met, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said: "We have a duty to give Italian citizens certainty. We need to find out the truth and tell the truth without being intimidated".

Reports over the snooping have already angered French and Mexican officials and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Kerry in Paris at a meeting on Tuesday that it was "unacceptable".

Italian media, citing fugitive US leaker Edward Snowden, reported that Skype calls, emails and web searches were being monitored also in Italy.

The reports also said Italian parliamentarians had been told by the National Security Agency that the monitoring helped prevent an attack by Algerian militants in Naples in September 2010.

Kerry landed in Rome on Tuesday from London where he attended a meeting of the Friends of Syria group of 11 countries that agreed with Syrian opposition leaders that President Bashar al-Assad should play no future role in government.

Kerry was due Wednesday to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also in Rome, to discuss Iran, Syria and the status of talks with the Palestinians, officials said.

Netanyahu said after meeting Letta on Tuesday that it would be "tragic" if Iran succeeded in proceeding with its nuclear programme.

"We must ensure that Iran will not have nuclear weapons capabilities and we can achieve this peacefully," said Netanyahu, whose country is believed to be the Middle East's sole nuclear armed state.

Last week, Iranian negotiators met in Geneva with representatives of six world powers and presented a new proposal to the West aimed at ending the nuclear stand-off.

"Iran says it wants a deal in which it will have civilian nuclear energy, but this is not the real issue," Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

"Many nations in Europe, North America, and Asia have nuclear energy without centrifuges or plutonium."

Netanyahu's office had also said he would meet with Pope Francis this week but officials later said this would not happen without explaining.

The meeting would have been the first between Netanyahu and Francis, who has been invited to the Holy Land by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

dt/ide/txw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131023/italian-pm-raises-spy-claims-at-kerry-talks