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Italy's Letta faces confidence vote after Berlusconi exit

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta was set to win a confidence vote on Wednesday amid a political sea change after the sidelining of Silvio Berlusconi and the rise of centre-left leader Matteo Renzi. Social tensions have marred the parliament vote, which was called after the scandal-tainted Berlusconi's party quit the ruling left-right coalition and he was ejected from parliament over a tax fraud conviction.

Italy, Israel conclude raft of cooperation deals

ROME, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Italian and Israeli leaders have signed 12 agreements aimed at enhancing bilateral cooperation. The deals, covering security, energy, education, health care and high technology, were signed after Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta met Monday with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu. "These agreements are aimed at boosting growth and employment, which are the primary goals of every country at the moment," said Letta, whose government now prioritizes cutting unemployment.

Italy to sell stakes in 8 firms to cut debt

Italy will sell stakes in eight companies including energy giant Eni in a "first packet of privatisations" expected to raise up to 12 billion euros ($16.1 billion), Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Thursday. The sales are "a first move towards not just keeping the 2014 deficit under control" but also towards cutting Italy's vast public debt "for the first time in five years", Letta said following a cabinet meeting. The state plans to sell up to 3.0 percent of its stake in Eni, worth two billion euros, while keeping at least 30 percent of the company.

France, Italy call for full-time Eurogroup chief

ROME (Reuters) - France and Italy called on Wednesday for euro zone finance ministers to have a full-time chairman after European Parliament elections in May, according to a joint Franco-Italian document. The document was released to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting between French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta. It follows a similar agreement between France and Germany in May on creating a full-time president of the 17-nation currency area's ministers.

Italy PM Letta calls for banking union, end of austerity

ROME (Reuters) - The next European Union summit meeting in December must allow the rapid launch of a banking union, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Wednesday. Speaking after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande, Letta said some EU countries had been "too timid" over the issue and this had to be overcome. "It is absolutely necessary the December European Council allows the launch of the banking union," Letta said at a news conference with Hollande.

Police, protesters clash in Rome during French president visit

ROME (Reuters) - Protesters threw smoke bombs and clashed with police in central Rome on Wednesday while Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta met French President Francois Hollande in the capital. The scuffles broke out around the Campo de' Fiori central square where people had gathered to protest against a high-speed rail link being built between France and northern Italy.

Italy PM urges Germany to move on growth

VALLETTA (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta urged the next German government on Monday to push for more growth in Europe, saying it was in Berlin's own interest to ensure that economies across the continent pulled out of recession. "The hope is that it brings economic policies which consider that recovery in Europe is a priority for Germany as well," Letta told a news conference with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Hundreds of migrants rescued in sea off Italy

ROME, Italy (Reuters) - Italian navy and coast guard vessels rescued more than 700 migrants in waters between Sicily and North Africa overnight as an immigration crisis that has cost hundreds of lives this month showed no signs of abating. Patrol boats conducted five operations and those rescued included dozens of women and children, authorities said on Friday. Several hundred were brought to an already overcrowded immigrant reception center on the southern island of Lampedusa.

Italy to demand action on migrant crisis at EU summit

By James Mackenzie ROME (Reuters) - Italy will seek an overhaul of European asylum policies and emergency action to handle a crisis that has seen tens of thousands of African migrants arrive in Sicily and hundreds of deaths, Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Tuesday. Speaking ahead of a European Council meeting on Thursday and Friday, Letta said chronic instability in Africa and the Middle East meant the disasters earlier this month, in which as many as 550 migrants drowned, would not be the last of their kind.

Italian prime minister praises Obama over debt deal

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta became the first world leader Thursday to meet President Barack Obama after the end of a debt default showdown and declared: "his success is our success." A stable US economy was vital for the globe, Letta told Obama, only hours after the US Congress staved off a debt default by agreeing to extend the government's borrowing authority. After talks in the Oval Office, Letta congratulated Obama for ending the latest political drama in Washington to capture the world's attention. "His success is also our success," Letta told reporters.
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