Italy Likely to Stay in Iraq

Italy's lower house of parliament was to vote Tuesday on whether to approve funding to continue Italian troop deployment in Iraq through June.

The measure was expected to be approved as Premier Silvio Berlusconi's (search) conservatives have comfortable majority in the Chamber of Deputies (search). The premier is a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led mission in Iraq.

The Senate already voted to extend the mission last month.

Italy, one of the largest contributors to the U.S.-led coalition, has about 3,000 troops deployed in Nasiriyah, in southern Iraq. They were sent in after the ouster of Saddam Hussein to help rebuild the country.

Opposition to the war and to Italy's involvement in Iraq is strong here. Berlusconi faced renewed pressure to pull troops out after the March 4 killing in Baghdad of an Italian intelligence agent, Nicola Calipari (search), who was escorting a recently released hostage to freedom. Calipari was killed by U.S. troops, which mistakenly opened fire on his vehicle.

The government made it clear it was not considering a pullout following the agent's death.