01:09 GMT08 March 2021
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    ROME (Sputnik) Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini said on Wednesday that his country intends to renew its fleet of F-35 stealth-fighter jets despite differing opinions on the program among the ruling coalition.

    "I can assure you that Italy's participation in the F-35 program meets these objectives and is dictated by [efficiency and effectiveness] needs." Guerini, a member of the ruling Democratic Party (PD), told Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera in an interview.

    Previous and current government officials have flip-flopped stances on the fate of the program. Guerini’s predecessor Elisabetta Trenta said in a televised 2018 interview that Italy would not buy any more F-35s. According to media reports, the Lega party, which was part of the previous coalition government, advocated for the purchase of enough F-35s as a means to fulfill the 2 percent GDP defense spending quota required of NATO members. Lega was banished during the government crisis earlier this year.

    Incumbent Foreign Minster and head of Five Star Movement, PD's coalition partner, Luigi Di Maio has stated that the F-35 jets were not a priority and must be reviewed, while Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte, also part of M5S, has assured US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Italy would stick to its commitment of buying 90 F-35s.

    NATO, fighter jets, Five Star Movement, Mike Pompeo, United States, F-35, Italy
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