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Italy, Greece insist on safeguarding eurozone

ROME — The leaders of Italy and Greece are insisting on the "absolute need" to preserve the eurozone, as Greek politicians struggle to put together an austerity package critical to the country's financial survival.

Italy's Premier Mario Monti met Friday with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on the sidelines of a political conference in Rome.

A statement from Monti's office said the two leaders reiterated their conviction of "the absolute need to safeguard the integrity of the eurozone, stabilize markets and proceed in the process of European integration."

Samaras' coalition government has yet to agree on details of €11.5 billion ($15 billion) worth of cuts so the country can get bailout cash. Without the money, Greece might default and abandon the euro.

Monti was later meeting the leaders of Ireland and Spain.

Meanwhile, Greece's bailout creditors said they are taking a "brief pause" of one week in talks about the country's new austerity program, saying that "good progress" has been made so far.

But the officials from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank also said in a statement in Athens that they will continue contacting the Greek officials from their headquarters during that time.

The debt inspectors from the IMF, EU and ECB have been meeting senior Greek officials since early September, ahead of a crucial progress report that will determine whether Greece keeps receiving vital rescue loans.

But weeks of deliberations among the three parties in Greece's fragile, conservative-led governing coalition have failed produce an agreement on the final list of cutbacks.

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