Italy backs off on military assistance in Mali
Italian Premier Mario Monti says Italy is backing off its commitment to assist France’s military campaign against Islamist fighters in Mali because his caretaker government lacks political support on the issue during the run-up to national elections next month.
A proposal to send three transport planes and up to 24 military advisers to Mali had already passed the Chamber of Deputies, but Monti said Jan. 28 that many parliamentarians who voted in favor are not seeking re-election and the leaders of the parties supporting his technocrat government had expressed opposition.
Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said logistic support for France should be a priority of the new parliament but ìat the moment the political conditions are lacking. AP
$3 million study of Reno-area veterans nursing home proposed
Nevada lawmakers are being asked to approve funds toward building a northern Nevada nursing home for veterans, veterans’ spouses and parents whose children have died in combat.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is proposing a $3 million feasibility and design study for a veterans nursing facility in the Reno-Sparks area.
If the Legislature approves the plan, the state would pick up one-third of the cost and the federal Veterans Administration would pay the rest.
Nevada Office of Veterans Services deputy chief Katherine Miller tells the Gazette-Journal the state is currently 99th on the Veterans Affairs priority list and would move up significantly if the state came up with 35 percent funding.
Construction on the proposed 90-bed facility could begin by 2017. AP
U.S. may set up drone base in Africa
A U.S. military official says the Pentagon is considering setting up a drone base in northwest Africa to increase intelligence collection on Islamic militants in the region.
The official says the U.S. signed an agreement Jan. 28 that would set the rules for greater American military presence in the nation of Niger, which would be the most likely location for any new drone base. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decision has been made.
Americans are already in Niger, training local forces. But a greater presence and a drone operation there would position the U.S. to provide more help to French and Malian troops fighting al Qaeda-backed fighters in neighboring Mali. AP