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Berlusconi in Crisis Talks on Saving Government

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the leader of a centrist party that withdrew from his coalition are holding last-minute talks on chances of saving the government from imminent collapse.

The talks between Mr. Berlusconi and Marco Follini, leader of the Union of Christian Democrats, came just hours before the prime minister was to meet with President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi to report on his efforts to save his coalition.

The Union of Christian Democrats pulled out of the coalition Friday after coalition parties were defeated in 11 of 13 regions in elections earlier this month. Mr. Follini repeatedly has urged Mr. Berlusconi to form a new government with a fresh program.

Previous prime ministers have gained strength by resigning and forming new governments, but Mr. Berlusconi has stressed his intention to serve until completing his full five-year term in 2006.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.