ROME (AP) _ A study by an international panel found no connection between electromagnetic emissions from Vatican Radio transmitters in a town outside Rome and leukemia rates in the area, Italy's health minister said Saturday.

Residents near the transmitter in Santa Maria di Galeria have said they suspect some local leukemia cases may be linked to the emissions from Vatican Radio, which broadcasts the pope's words around the world in 40 languages.

The report from the five-month study, conducted by investigators from Italy, Britain and Germany and released by Health Minister Girolamo Sirchia, found that leukemia rates in and around Santa Maria di Galeria were no higher than rates in Rome.

``On the basis of scientific knowledge, the report has found no evidence of a correlation between exposure to electromagnetic fields and the development of leukemia,'' Sirchia said.

However, the investigators recommended a national study group be created to compile statistics of small Italian towns to monitor cancer rates. Sirchia said that ``the number of cases analyzed was relatively low to consider this study completely convincing.''

Health concerns among residents of Santa Maria di Galeria prompted Italy's former environment minister to threaten to pull the plug on Radio Vatican earlier this year if it didn't bring its emissions in line with strict Italian regulations.

Separately, an Italian prosecutor charged the director of Vatican Radio and two other Vatican officials, including an Italian cardinal, with damaging the environment.

The Vatican has argued that the transmissions were in line with less strict international standards and that its officials are shielded from prosecution under a 1929 pact with Italy that established Vatican City as an independent city-state.

But to settle the dispute with the environment minister, Vatican Radio agreed in May to reduce its medium-wave transmissions and move its medium-wave transmission center.