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Italian President Begins Consultations; Prodi Forming Cabinet

Italy's new president has begun consultations with political leaders ahead of his expected nomination of Romano Prodi as the country's new prime minister.

Giorgio Napolitano began a series of meetings with top politicians throughout the day Tuesday, and could ask Mr. Prodi to form a government as early as this evening.

A narrow victor in last month's general elections, Mr. Prodi said Tuesday, he is ready to receive his mandate and is working to set up a cabinet.

Italy's lawmakers elected Mr. Napolitano to a seven-year term as president last week with the support of Mr. Prodi's center-left coalition. He won in the fourth round of parliamentary voting, despite stiff opposition from center-right politicians loyal to outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

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