Italy expels Eritrean diplomats


March12, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Italy has expelled an Eritrean diplomat in response to the arrest and expulsion of an Italian diplomat by Asmara, a foreign ministry source said last Wednesday.

“To signal our disappointment at the expulsion of an official at the Italian embassy in Asmara and in line with established practice, the authorities have taken similar steps with an Eritrean official posted here,” the ministry source said.

The official was not identified and it was unclear if he had already left Italy.

The foreign ministry had also called in Eritrea’s Ambassador to Rome to protest the Italian’s arrest and expulsion.

The ministry said the Italian had been arrested and detained earlier this week in the port city of Massawa, 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of the capital.

The ministry said he had been charged with “violating local laws by going to the defense of Italians whose property had been expropriated.”

Earlier Wednesday, Eritrea’s Information Minister Ali Abdu confirmed that the man had been expelled because he had broken the law, but he gave no details.

Diplomatic sources in Eritrea identified him as a senior diplomat, Ludovico Serra.



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