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Italy PM calls on coalition partners to remain united to face crisis

FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wearing a protective face mask leaves at the end of a news conference on government’s new anti-COVID-19 measures in the Christmas period at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy December 18, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s prime minister on Wednesday urged members of his coalition government to stay united as the country grapples with a public health emergency and an economic crisis.

“These are massive, very demanding challenges,” Giuseppe Conte said on Facebook, adding that it was essential to “reinforce the cohesion of the majority and the solidity of the government team”.

He said the government’s actions should remain focused on improving conditions for citizens, protecting their right to healthcare and granting a future to the younger ones, adding: “Everything else does not concern me.”

Conte’s relations with coalition partner and former premier Matteo Renzi have deteriorated markedly in recent weeks and a showdown could bring down his government.

Renzi has called for radical changes in the government’s plans aimed at relaunching the economy.

In his Facebook post, Conte added that after meeting with ministers on Wednesday the government had updated its Recovery plan – a document detailing how the country will access some 209 billion euros ($256.57 billion) from the European Recovery Fund – incorporating contributions from other parties.

“I have never reneged on discussions or listening to the parties that support the government,” the prime minister said.

Conte also said that greater resources would be aimed at the health sector, youth, nurseries and people with disabilities.

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