ROME, July 16 The Italian senate agreed that any
further purchases of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets
must be approved by parliament on Tuesday, but rejected a motion
to cancel an existing deal with the U.S. defense contractor.
Plans to spend 11.8 billion euros ($15.4 billion) on the
jets over 45 years from 2015 have caused bitter debate after
years of spending cuts and tax rises to manage Italy's huge
public debt, rocking the stability of the fragile left-right
The agreement that future spending on the long-running
contract be approved by parliament is a non-binding political
commitment that may have little weight, as President Giorgio
Napolitano this month said such decisions are up to the
government, not parliament.
The lower house last month approved the motion as a
compromise between the centre-left - which said it would cancel
the purchase before a February election - and their centre-right
coalition partners who support the deal.