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Summit riots spark Genoa G8 fears

ROME, Italy -- Concerns over potential violence in Genoa as world leaders meet in the city next month have reached the Italian parliament after riots at the EU summit in Sweden.

Officials in Genoa have said the city will remain "open" during the Group of Eight summit, but the Italian media is reporting that security officials are considering holding the talks aboard warships anchored in the city's harbour.

New Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday that the G8 summit should go ahead, but said measures should be put in place to neutralise "extremist" demonstrators, news agencies reported.

Berlusconi has already criticised the decision of his predecessors to hold the summit in the old Italian port city.

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There have been calls in Italy for the summit of the eight leading industrialised nations to be called off following violence at the European Union summit in Gothenburg at the weekend.

Three people were shot by police and at least 100 of around 12,000 anti-capitalist protesters were arrested during the riots.

Such demonstrations have dogged meetings of international leaders since the 1999 World Trade Organisation conference in Seattle.

The Greens and the Communists in the Italian Senate are among those concerned, with The Associated Press reporting that some Communist senators held up signs saying "No to G8" and "Toss the G8 into the sea" as Berlusconi addressed them on Monday.

Berlusconi said "extremists of the anti-globalisation movement must be isolated."

He said: "We say to Italians and Europeans who are getting ready to demonstrate, as is their right to do, that we are open to dialogue.

"There has not been up to now an open dialogue between us and them so we could make them understand that our objectives are often the same."

Berlusconi was speaking to the Senate ahead of a routine vote of confidence on his new government.

He said the G8 nations -- Italy, France, Germany, Britain, the United States, Japan, Canada and Russia -- plan to talk about what rich nations can do to help poor ones, especially in Africa, during the July 20-22 meeting.

During Italy's election campaign in May, Berlusconi and his allies mocked the suggestion that Genoa would remain an "open city" during the summit, saying the meeting could be targeted by terrorists.

During his speech, Berlusconi also promised to bring in a conflict of interest law by August following concern over the businesses the Italian premier owns, The Associated Press reported.

Berlusconi's extensive holdings, especially in media, have provoked concerns about potential conflicts of interest.

The vote of confidence in Berlusconi's new government in the Senate -- a routine measure for new Italian governments -- is expected on Wednesday, while a vote in the Chamber of Deputies will follow soon afterwards.






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