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Italian leader visits Israel

Italy’s prime minister is visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority.Romano Prodi arrived Sunday for a three-day visit. Aside from holding meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Prodi will visit Sderot, an Israeli town beleaguered by rocket fire from Gaza, and a Palestinian refugee camp.Italy, which has led the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon since last year’s war between Israel and Hezbollah, may have information on the fate of two Israeli soldiers held hostage by Hezbollah fighters, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported Monday.Speaking to reporters after his talks with Olmert, Prodi said, “I must express my solidarity with the families of the kidnapped soldiers and I hope that their release soon can begin a virtuous spiral toward the peace that this land has the absolute right to.”