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Italy Relocates Food Summit Away from Rome - 2001-09-03

An international summit on world hunger, which was to be held in Rome, will be moved elsewhere in Italy because of fears of violent anti-globalization protests. The decision was made Monday following a meeting between the Italian Prime Minister and the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The fear of violent riots in the Italian capital, similar to those seen in Genoa during the G8 Summit in July this year, has led the Italian government and U.N. officials to agree to move the Food and Agriculture Organization's November food summit from Rome to elsewhere in the country.

The Italian government had at first tried to move the FAO meeting out of the country altogether, to somewhere in Africa. But U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had insisted the summit on world hunger was to be held in Italy, like in 1996, because Italy is the headquarters of the United Nations food agency. Following a meeting with Italy's Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero in Durban, South Africa, Mr. Annan understood that Rome could not be put at risk.

At a meeting Monday between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the Director General of FAO, Jacques Diouf, the two agreed to make a final decision on where the summit should be held. An Italian government spokesman announced, following the two-hour lunch, that an agreement had been reached to hold the summit outside of Rome and that a new site in Italy was still to be found.

A commission of Italian government and FAO representatives, the spokesman added, will travel to a number of possible sites in the country and decide on the best location in the next few days. Since the violence-marred G8 summit in Genoa, which sparked accusations of chaotic and violent policing, the Italian government has made clear it would move international summits away from major Italian cities. The government has said its aim is to shift attention away from the protests and to the subject at hand.

Likely sites for the food summit include a number of small towns not far from Rome. The meeting from November 5-9 is to host some 7,000 delegates from countries all over the world.