The Ethiopian ambassador to Italy, Mengistu Hulluka, has declared that his country is willing to lengthen the runway at Axum airport to allow the return of the Axum obelisk from Rome. The obelisk was looted from Ethiopia by Mussolini in 1937 and was erected at Porta Capena, in front of what was then the ministry of the colonies, later to house the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. After repeated requests to return it home the obelisk was finally dismantled at the end of 2003, but it has been stored since then at the Ponte Galeria carabinieri station, close to Leonardo da Vinci international airport, because lack of money and suitable transport to return it to Axum. The obelisk needs special transport facilities to return it home and one of the many problems has been that the present runway is not long enough for the sort of aircraft needed for the journey.
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