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Naples urges NATO summit rethink

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Interior Minister Claudio Scajola, during a debate on July's G8 summit in Genoa  

NAPLES, Italy -- The mayor of Naples has requested that a scheduled NATO summit in the southern Italian city be postponed, or held elsewhere.

Her request comes in the wake of the recent G8 summit in Genoa, which saw widespread clashes between police and anti-globalisation protesters.

Anti-globalisation activists have vowed to hold "direct and extreme actions of protest" during the Naples summit, planned for September 26 and 27, leading city authorities to fear a repeat of the mayhem witnessed in Genoa.

"The atmosphere in the country is overheated," mayor Rosa Russo Jervolino said in an interview on Tuesday with La Republica newspaper. "Putting it off would be opportune as we run the risk of massive protests."

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Her comments come just days after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation conference, scheduled to be held in Rome on November 5-9, should also be moved.

He suggested that the 180 leaders of the U.N. member nations should meet in Africa instead.

July's G8 summit in Genoa resulted in some of the worst rioting ever experienced at such events, and cost the city millions of dollars in damage.

The Italian government has faced a barrage of criticism about the way it handled policing of the summit, with widespread accusations of police brutality.

One protester was shot dead, and more than 200 injured. There are growing fears that protesters might use the forthcoming Naples meeting as a means of avenging the treatment they received in Genoa.

"I have no intention of seeing Naples turned into a military fortress like Genoa and then destroyed by anarchists," The Times newspaper quoted Jervolino as saying.

Naples, the headquarters both of NATO's Southern Europe Allied Forces and the U.S. Sixth Fleet, hosted an incident-free G8 summit in 1994.

As Jervolino admitted, however, "things have changed a great deal since then."

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