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Must include local leaders in Syria weapon plan, says Lupi

Chemical arms headed for Italian port concerns locals

17 January, 12:38
Must include local leaders in Syria weapon plan, says Lupi (ANSA) - Rome, January 17 - Community and regional leaders must be involved in the use of their port to move Syrian chemical weapons en route to disposal, Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said Friday.

Those comments did not reassure Gioia Tauro Mayor Renato Bellofiore, who continued to express fears about the safety of his southern port community, where a stockpile of weapons' material from war-torn Syria will be transferred between ships before being destroyed in international waters.

On Thursday, the government announced that it would participate in a United Nations plan to dispose of the Syrian weapons arsenal in the customs port of Gioia Tauro, where material will be shifted from the Danish ship Arc Futura to a US one for their subsequent destruction.

Lupi told parliament that 60 containers would be moved using special carriageways, without being unloaded and stocked on land. That triggered anger from the community, which said it should have been consulted about such an important plan.

Friday, Lupi said that it would be "right to involve the mayors, local authorities and the region," in the plan which UN authorities said could begin in just a few weeks.

"Together we can ensure greater security," added Lupi, who is also minister of infrastructure.

However, Bellofiore said he is worried that many more than 60 containers will be moved through his community and if so, "it creates further panic in the population".