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Italy PM Sells Austerity Measures to Politicians


Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. (file photo)

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. (file photo)

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti met with party leaders Saturday to build support for his proposed austerity measures as European leaders work to confront the continent's debt crisis.

The government has not officially released details of the measures, but they are believed to include a mix of cuts and tax hikes and an increase to the retirement age.

Several politicians have described the measures as "severe" but necessary, and Monti has promised to make them as socially equitable as possible.

Italy's cabinet is set to meet Monday to approve the package in hopes it will help resolve the country's debt crisis.

Greece, Ireland and Portugal have already been forced to secure international bailouts over the last year and a half. The main fear now for European leaders is that Italy, with the continent's third biggest economy, may also need a bailout to avoid defaulting on its debts - a crisis that would threaten the continent's monetary union and could lead to a renewed worldwide recession.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are to meet in Paris on Monday to announce a joint German-French plan to resolve the crisis, ahead of an EU summit next Friday in Brussels.

All 27 EU nations would have to approve changes to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty that created the EU, but that broad approval may not be necessary if spending controls apply only to the 17 nations that use the euro as their currency.

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

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