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Italian peace march has notable impact

It is estimated that nearly half million people walked from Perugio to Assisi on 12 October on the traditional peace march which first took place in 1961. Participants were united in their emphasis of article 11 of the Italian constitution - which repudiates war as a means for solving international conflicts.

Tens of thousands of coaches and private vehicles reached the area by the early morning, having travelled from distant places such as Sicily and Venice. The national media did their best to downplay the event, but when they realised that several small, private and satellite stations were making preparations for live coverage, Italian TV station RA-13 decided to devote two hours live to the march.

At the NATO summit in the US, which took place the day before the march, the Italian minister of defence announced that 3,000 Italian soldiers would spend a further six months in Iraq. The day after the march he modified his statement by saying that Italy would only consider extending the soldiers' tour of duty if president Bush requested it, and that no decision would be taken before a full debate had taken place in parliament.