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Italy's Bersani and Berlusconi to continue talks for presidential election


09:05, April 11, 2013

ROME, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Talks between Italy's center-left party head Pier Luigi Bersani and center-right counterpart Silvio Berlusconi about the candidate for the next president and other issues will continue after their first meeting held on Tuesday.

"It was a good meeting to clarify the criteria for identifying together a list of persons who can represent the country's unity," Deputy Secretary of Bersani's Democratic Party (PD) Enrico Letta said after the meeting.

Though the talks between PD and Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) were "just at the beginning," they were fundamental at a time of great divisions to share a "strong responsibility" over the president's choice, he said.

"It is necessary to make all attempts to have a president elected with a broad consensus... I think there will be more meetings with PdL," Letta added.

PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano shared the view that there will be other talks between the two strongest forces and longstanding opponents in parliament "to make every effort to ensure sharing over a choice so delicate and important."

Alfano said in a statement that Berlusconi has reiterated his willingness to do "what is useful to Italy" and the next president must be a person of "unquestionable prestige and recognized institutional competence." However no names were put forth during the meeting, he noted.

President Giorgio Napolitano, 87, whose seven-year term ends on May 15, has been struggling to end the impasse in the formation of Italy's new government after the Feb. 24-25 inconclusive elections.

Italian presidents, whose role is mostly ceremonial but includes powers such as naming the premier, are not allowed to dissolve parliament in the final months of their mandate. Napolitano has ruled out an early resignation that would allow his successor to call for fresh general voting.

The new president will be elected by parliament in a joint session starting from April 18. A two-third vote is required on any of the first three rounds of balloting, after which a majority suffices.

The meeting came after Napolitano suggested that political parties should have the "courage" to reach an alliance for the good of the recession-hit country.

The remarks followed Bersani's reiterated refusal to consider a broad coalition with Berlusconi who had offered his support in return, among other issues, for selecting the next president.

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