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Italian President Says He Needs Time to Resolve Political Crisis

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano says he needs more time to decide the next step in resolving Italy's political crisis, following the resignation of Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

Mr. Napolitano described the situation as complicated and difficult, after wrapping up four days of talks with political leaders. The Italian president met Tuesday in Rome with conservative opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi, who called for immediate parliamentary elections

The president, a leftist, is said to be leaning towards a second option of establishing an interim government that would reform electoral laws and give more power to the prime minister before a poll is held. Mr. Napolitano did not say how long it would take to make his decision.

President Napolitano also met with Democratic Party leader and Rome's Mayor Walter Veltroni, who said he proposed a transitional government and no elections before early 2009, to allow for political reform.

Prime Minister Prodi stepped down last week following the collapse of his fragile center-left coalition, after a small party withdrew its support.

Mr. Berlusconi has vowed to organize street protests if the vote is not called. Recent polls show the conservative leader holding as much as a 10 percent lead over Mr. Prodi.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.