New Italian PM Says He’s Ready to Present His Government

Posted November 15th, 2011 at 9:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Italy's Prime Minister designate Mario Monti says he is ready to present his new government to the president after getting a stamp of approval from political, business, and union leaders.

Mr. Monti plans a Wednesday morning meeting with President Georgio Napolitano, to be followed by his official swearing-in. He declined to give any details on his new Cabinet or economic plans Tuesday. But he said he is absolutely convinced Italy can overcome what he calls a difficult period.

It will be up to Mr. Monti and his government to implement the spending cuts and economic austerity aimed at keeping Italy from defaulting on its huge debt. Italy is the eurozone's third largest economy. It could be disastrous if it were forced to ask for a bailout.

The interest rate on Italian government bonds hit 7 percent Tuesday — the same rate that Greek, Irish, and Portuguese bonds hit before they asked for bailouts.

Also Wednesday, the Greek parliament holds a confidence vote on the government of caretaker Prime Minister Lucas Papademos. His government is specifically tasked with getting parliament to approve a new bailout deal with the European Union. Greek officials warn the country could collapse without the new funding and an $11 billion installment of last year's bailout.

The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou Tuesday to thank him for his two years of leadership and what he calls Mr. Papandreou's many contributions to Greece and Greek-American relations.

Mr. Papandreou agreed to step down last week in favor of the short-term government.