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Italy's 5-Star wants to 'improve' ESM reform - leader Di Maio

ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s ruling 5-Star Movement wants to improve a reform of the euro zone’s bailout fund (ESM) which the region’s countries are due to approve by February, the party’s leader Luigi Di Maio said on Thursday.

Di Maio’s words could put the government in difficulty, as Economy Minister Roberto Gualteri, from the co-ruling Democratic Party, told parliament on Wednesday that negotiations on the reform were basically completed and it could not be changed.

“The ESM reform can be improved, that is what we are here for,” Di Maio told 5-Star lawmakers according to a statement released by his spokesman.

The opposition, hard-right League party has accused the government of betraying Italians by trying to sign off on the reform without the approval of parliament.

Di Maio, who is foreign minister in the government, said he had complete confidence in Gualtieri and in Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, “but it’s clear that the negotiation needs to be improved to defend Italy’s interests”.

Reporting By Gavin Jones, editing by Giulia Segreti