Despite Foreign Ministry sanctions, Italian PM to arrive

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June 30, 2013 18:19
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Bucking Foreign Ministry work sanctions, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta is scheduled to begin a two day visit to Israel Monday morning, his first visit since being asked to form a coalition in April.

Though there was some talk that the visit would be postponed because of the Foreign Ministry workers' dispute,  Letta – like Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili who visited here last week – decided to go through with the visit even though the foreign ministry's workers will not be taking any part in it.

The workers are planning a protest Monday in front of the Prime Minister's Office at noon, when Letta is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The workers protested outside the President's Residence last week when Ivanishvili met President Shimon Peres.

Letta will start his trip with a visit to Yad Vashem, accompanied by International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz.

Letta, who was asked to form the Italian government after weeks of a political logjam following the country's February general election, is on the right flank of the center-left Democratic Party, and considered a friend of Israel despite being a critic of the settlements.

“He is neither anti-Israeli nor anti-Palestinian, and wants really to see peace in the Middle East,” one foreign ministry official described him in April when he took over as Italy's prime minister.

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