Italian leaders restated their misgivings today over U.S. military actions against Libya directly to Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who arrived here for a three-day visit.
Prime Minister Bettino Craxi, meeting with Shultz at the Chigi Palace, expressed "doubts about the usefulness of repeating" the U.S. military challenge to Libya's claim to the Gulf of Sidra, according to a senior U.S. official who was present.
Craxi also noted that "there are a variety of sources for terrorism" other than Libya, and that the U.S. action produced "expressions of solidarity from countries that otherwise might not give those expressions," the official said.
However, Craxi's remarks today were somewhat softer than Tuesday's, in which he said a military challenge to Qaddafi's claim was "unacceptable" even though the claim was an "inadmissible" violation of world navigational freedom. The officials attributed the shift to "the passage of time."
Shultz told reporters on his plane that Italy's position "is perhaps not quite what we would wish for, but nevertheless, I think we are in good shape."
Italy barred the United States from using NATO bases here for anything but NATO purposes last November, after U.S. planes forced an Egyptian jet carrying the Achille Lauro hijackers to land at the Sigonella air base. Asked what restrictions Italy had imposed during the Libyan incident, Shultz said that none "in any real way impeded the full conduct of our exercises."