Premier Silvio Berlusconi (searchmade an unannounced visit to Iraq early Saturday to meet with Italian troops based in the southern city of Nasiriyah (search), his office said.

The premier flew in early Saturday and was to meet with Italian troops later in the day, his office said. Some 2,900 Italian troops in Iraq to aid reconstruction efforts around the southern town of Nasiriyah.

Berlusconi, a conservative ally of President Bush, supported the U.S.-led war and agreed to send troops after the conflict.

Italian government ministers have repeatedly said Italian troops will not be pulled out of Iraq early despite escalating violence.