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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-06-14

French President François Hollande met with his Italian counterpart Mario Monti in Rome Thursday to discuss finances amidst eurozone pressure to reign in debt. Monti told the press he and Hollande agreed Greece should stay in the eurozone.

AFP - Italy and France said there was "not enough progress" on the eurozone debt crisis on Thursday, as fresh market tensions increased pressure on EU leaders to find a way to end the two-year crisis.

"The progress made, including in the governance of the eurozone, is not sufficient and we need to strengthen the weak parts of the system," Mario Monti said during a visit by French President Francois Hollande to Rome.

International financial watchers are waiting with baited breath for a crucial Greek election which may see Athens exit the eurozone and could have a knock-on effect on struggling Spain and Italy.

With just three days to go before Greeks vote to continue with austerity or bring in a party which has promised to tear up the bailout conditions, Monti and Hollande said they hope Greece will stay in the eurozone.

"I want to reaffirm the hope, shared with President Hollande, that Athens will remain in the eurozone and respect its engagements," Monti said.

The reference to the need to tackle governance in the eurozone came after Germany-fuelled calls for a big leap towards further EU integration.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had also issued a harsh warning earlier Thursday on the impossibility of Berlin saving the eurozone alone.

In an attempt to ease the tension, Monti said he knew that "Merkel is continually looking for a solution for Europe" and "is always interested in finding the best answers both on growth and on stability."

The talks came a week before a key four-way summit at the end of June.

Both leaders are pushing for growth and presidential sources in Paris said Hollande has prepared a "road map" which also probes the benefits of pooling debt.

At the talks, Monti and Hollande "exchanged opinions on the hypothesis" of "shared bonds", the Italian leader said.

Both Monti and Hollande have expressed interest in a debt-pooling scheme.

But Merkel earlier said that those clamouring for Germany to "pour billions into eurobonds, stability funds, European bank deposit guarantee funds" wanted a quick crisis fix that was unsustainable.

The talks came as Spain flounders and fears grow over Greece's fate.

The austerity-hit country, which is running out of cash for salaries and pensions, goes to the urns Sunday in a vote which may see it exit the eurozone.

Monti has been fighting to convince financiers that Italy will not be the next domino to fall in the crisis, but the results of a bond session Thursday proved investors were in doubt.

Rome raised 4.5 billion euros in medium- and longer-term financing but was forced to pay nervous investors much higher rates of return.

Panic in Rome's halls of power saw some members of parliament Thursday calling on Monti "to persuade Germany to drop policies which have led to recession" and "act to avoid Italy reducing itself to Greece's state."


Date created : 2012-06-14


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