Romania numbers among the signatories of an initiative proposed by the US Embassy to Rome according to which Afghanistan is a key priority for NATO. Six ambassadors to Italy, including the head of the Romanian diplomatic mission, sign an article published in the Sunday edition of the La Repubblica newspaper, urging Italy not to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

During a trip to Seoul on Monday Italian Foreign minister Massimo D’Alema called the initiative “unusual” and that he believed “such issues can be discussed in another way”.

The op-ed article is signed by Romanian ambassador Cristian Valentin Colteanu as well as his counterparts from Australia, Canada, Britain, Netherlands and the US. It underlines the progress in making a democratic system work in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taleban regime.

The Italian media reacted in a tough manner with La Stampa newspaper calling the article “a gaffe” that took the Presidency in Rome by surprise. The issue is to be discuss at a coming meeting of the leftist union led by PM Romano Prodi.

But the Romanian Foreign Ministry defended Ambassador Colteanu’s move and said the article was in full compliance with Romania’s priorities as an important contributor to the stabilization and reconstruction works in Afghanistan.