Monti urged at European centre-right meeting to run in Italy vote

BRUSSELS Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:37am EST

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BRUSSELS Dec 13 (Reuters) - Several participants at a meeting of centre-right political parties in Brussels backed a call for Italy's technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti to stand as a candidate in elections expected in February, a person at the meeting said on Thursday.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had attacked Monti fiercely in recent days, unexpectedly changed course on Wednesday, saying he would drop his own bid for a fifth term if Monti agreed to lead the centre-right in the election.

He repeated the call at the meeting of the European People's Party, where the suggestion was backed by a number of speakers, although Monti himself gave no response, the participant said.

"There were a lot of expressions of support for a Monti candidacy," the person, a member of the European parliament, told Reuters. "But Monti didn't resolve the dilemma."

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