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Renzi defends possible talks with Berlusconi

Center-left boss calls controversy 'ludicrous'

16 January, 18:06
Renzi defends possible talks with Berlusconi (see related) (ANSA) - Rome, January 16 - The new leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD) on Thursday said criticism surrounding him possibly engaging in cross-party talks with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi was "ludicrous". "The controversy surrounding talks with (Berlusconi's center-right) Forza Italia is ludicrous," said Renzi at his first party meeting since a landslide victory at a primary in November. On Wednesday the 39-year-old mayor of Florence said he was considering meeting with the three-time premier to discuss election reforms, as he has done with other party leaders. Critics in Renzi's own PD have said talks with Berlusconi, who was handed a binding conviction last year and expelled from parliament, would help rehabilitate his marred image. "This controversy of meeting with a felon is outrageous.

(Berlusconi) was a founder of the current government, and I didn't see any ministers step down when he was convicted". After coming in second at elections last February, Berlusconi's now-defunct People of Freedom (PdL) party was a part of the coalition until pulling its support and disbanding in November.