updated 5/26/2006 5:24:22 PM ET 2006-05-26T21:24:22

Italy will pull 1,100 of its troops from Iraq in June, the new government said Friday, giving its first specific numbers about the planned withdrawal.

“In June we will reduce our troops from 2,700 to 1,600,” Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema said during an evening television show.

His announcement came hours after he met with Premier Romano Prodi to map Italy’s exit strategy from the U.S.-led coalition.

Most Italian troops in Iraq are in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. They are involved in training, security and reconstruction.

The decision to withdraw this many troops by June belongs to the previous government of conservative Silvio Berlusconi. The new center-left government of Romano Prodi was merely staying with it for the time being, Foreign Ministry spokesman Pasquale Terracciano said.

“The next steps have not been decided yet,” Terracciano said.

Prodi had opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq and pledged during his campaign for the elections in April which brought him and his center-left allies to power to bring Italian troops home and replace the contingent with a civilian force.

He has said the timing of the pullout would be worked out with allies and the Iraqis.

In contrast, Berlusconi defied widespread opposition at home and sent about 3,000 soldiers to Iraq to help with reconstruction after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003. But he began withdrawing troops before Italy’s election last month and said all Italian troops would be brought home from Iraq by year’s end.

It was unclear how Prodi’s withdrawal plans might differ from that of Berlusconi’s government.

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