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Second round of Italy gov't talks end in apparent stall
Last Updated: 2018-04-13 07:23 | Xinhua
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ITALY-ROME-GOVERNMENT TALKS-SECOND ROUND

Interim Democratic Party Secretary Maurizio Martina (3rd R, front) speaks to the media at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, capital of Italy, on April 12, 2018. The first day of the second round of Italy's formal government talks ended in an apparent stall Thursday, as leading political parties dug in to their conflicting positions. (Xinhua/Jin Yu)

The first day of the second round of Italy's formal government talks ended in an apparent stall Thursday, as leading political parties dug in to their conflicting positions.

The two relative winners of last month's general election -- the populist Five Star Movement led by Luigi Di Maio and the right-wing League led by Matteo Salvini -- each reiterated their claim to lead the next government in formal talks with the president of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, whose job it is to name a new prime minister.

After meeting with Mattarella, Salvini told reporters that the center-right coalition, which won 37 percent of the vote in the March 4 election, is ready to "form a strong and lasting government with a premier indicated by the League".

Di Maio, whose party won 32.5 percent of the national vote, last week offered to enter into a government deal either with the center-left Democratic Party of outgoing Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, or with the League -- as long as it gets rid of its ally, Silvio Berlusconi, who was expelled from parliament in 2013 following a tax fraud conviction.

He reiterated this position on Thursday, saying that while there is "an institutional synergy with the League", the center-right bloc "is an obstacle to change" as long as it includes Berlusconi and his Forza Italia party.

"We see only one solution," Di Maio said. "Berlusconi must step aside. A Five Star government with Forza Italia is absolutely impossible."

Interim Democratic Party Secretary Maurizio Martina rejected the Five Star offer, reiterating that his party will remain in the opposition after a crushing electoral defeat last month and accusing the League and the Five Stars of engaging in "ballets of public conflicts that hide agreements".

Both Di Maio and Salvini have pledged to crack down on immigration, roll back unpopular pension reforms, cut taxes, introduce generous welfare measures, and break European Union (EU) rules on public spending if necessary.

Whoever gets the job of prime minister must in turn win a confidence vote in both houses of parliament before he or she is confirmed in office.

The first round of formal talks held a week ago failed to produce a deal. Talks continue on Friday, when Mattarella is expected to make a statement as to what the next step will be.

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