Bush calls Berlusconi over agent shooting

US President George Bush called Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi today to reiterate his condolences for the killing of an Italian agent by US troops in Iraq, days after Washington and Rome issued rival reports about the shooting death.

US President George Bush called Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi today to reiterate his condolences for the killing of an Italian agent by US troops in Iraq, days after Washington and Rome issued rival reports about the shooting death.

Berlusconi’s office described the conversation as “long and cordial” and said “the two countries remain united in the commitment” toward Iraq.

Berlusconi is scheduled to address parliament on the shooting on Thursday.

Intelligence agent Nicola Calipari was mistakenly killed on March 4 when US soldiers at a checkpoint near Baghdad airport fired on the car in which he was a passenger.

Calipari was accompanying Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, a freed hostage he helped release.

After a joint investigation, Italian investigators and the US military differed over some aspects of the shooting and issued separate conclusions.

The US report cleared the soldiers of any blame, while the Italians said the troops’ fatigue and inexperience played a role in the shooting, which fuelled calls by Italians for Rome to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

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