Italy, US discuss Syria, Middle East

Rome, Oct 23 (IANS/AKI) Syria and the Middle East region topped the agenda at talks between Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome Wednesday.

Letta and Kerry discussed the Syrian peace talks, dubbed Geneva II, slated to take place next month. They also confirmed a training programme for Libyan security forces during the hour-long meeting.

Italy's Foreign Minister Emma Bonino also attended the meeting.

Other topics included Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East peace negotiations since direct talks resumed in July between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Controversial leaks from former intelligence analyst and whistleblower Edward Snowden suggesting mass surveillance being undertaken by the US National Security Agency were also broached at the meeting.

"Our objective is to find a fair balance between protecting security and the privacy of our citizens," Kerry was quoted by sources at the US embassy as saying.

Kerry reportedly said the US was reviewing the issue "in close consultation with our friends, including Italy".

Italy is among the countries concerned they may also have been targeted by the alleged mass surveillance programme.

Kerry was scheduled to hold a longer meeting later Wednesday with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome.

At a meeting Tuesday with Letta, Netanyahu told him that Iran wanted to build atomic weapons and that Israel's drive for peace in the region would be seriously harmed if Iran was able to produce a nuclear weapon.

--IANS/AKI

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