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Cold hand shake between Renzi and Letta

PM takes bell from predecessor ahead of first cabinet meeting

22 February, 14:00
Cold hand shake between Renzi and Letta (ANSA) - Rome, February 22 - Premier Matteo Renzi on Saturday took possession of the ceremonial bell starting cabinet meetings from the Democratic Party (PD) colleague he ousted, Enrico Letta.

Letta apparently found it hard to look Renzi in the eye during the frosty encounter and brief handshake in the ceremonial handover of power, which was televised live.

Less than five minutes after Letta left the room, the PD leader rang the bell for the first meeting of his 16-strong cabinet, half of whom are women.

A new house-building plan was believed to be one of the items of the agenda for Italy's youngest premier and youngest government.

Renzi, 39, pulled the plug on Letta, 47, after accusing him of moving too slowly on promised reforms to streamline government and jump start the economy, which is slowly emerging from its longest postwar recession, in order to cut record unemployment and help increasing numbers of 'new poor'.