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Germany and Italy voice optimism reform will bear fruit

After talks with Mario Monti, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised Italy for its deficit-cutting efforts. The Italian prime minister had long insisted his country's achievements had begun winning market approval.

The talks follow tensions between the two in June, when Monti pushed EU leaders to back moves to ease the pressure on the bond markets of heavily indebted eurozone states such as Spain and Italy, despite misgivings from Merkel.

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Merkel marvels at Monti

At the end of Wednesday's press conference, however, Merkel expressed pleasure at hosting Monti. She also praised the Italian premier's reform program, saying it would help to strengthen Europe's economic competitiveness.

"The wide-ranging consolidation and reform agenda of the Italian government is impressive ... and I am personally convinced that these reform efforts will bear fruit," Merkel said.

Monti hopes to show markets that Italy, the eurozone's third largest economy, can manage its debt through austerity moves and tax hikes, and create future growth with reforms. Italy raised 9 billion euros ($11 billion) at a six-month debt sale Wednesday, paying lower interest rates for a second successive day.

Growing expectations of ECB intervention have made creditors more confident in Italian bonds. Merkel described recent falling bond levels for Italy as “a hopeful sign.”

Monti also said that Italy would not ask for a bailout. "After the efforts Italy has made, and the results achieved, I certainly don't want it to be subjected to a sort of intrusive supervision, like the other countries which had to ask for help to balance their budgets," he told the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore ahead of the visit.

mkg/rc (AFP, dpa)

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