A truce has been declared between the Italian government and protesters in the Val di Susa in Piedmont in the north west of the country.

The protesters have been demonstrating against the building of a high-speed train track (TAV) through their valley between Turin and Lyon in France. The line would eventually be part of a European link between Lisbon and Kiev.

Following a meeting in Rome it has been agreed to stop work on the new line for up to six months for health and environmental surveys.

The Italian government has stressed that the truce is only a pause, while the residents from the valley say that it is only the beginning of attempts to find alternative routes.

The truce, if it holds, will cover the winter sport season, which this year includes the 2006 Winter Olympics due to begin in Turin on 10 February. Many of the competitions will take place at venues in the Val di Susa.

The suspension of the protests will not only allow winter sports to go ahead undisturbed, it could also have far wider political implications with Italian general elections due to be held in April 2006.