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Monti rules out run, but remains open to return

Italian caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Sunday that he would be ready to take office again next year. But the independent technocrat underlined that he would not run for re-election personally.

Speaking at an end of year news conference on Sunday, Italy's caretaker premier Mario Monti stressed that he was not now entering any political movement and that he was more concerned about his policy prescriptions being followed.

Monti said he won't run in February elections, but if some political parties that back his anti-crisis agenda asked him to head the next government, he would "evaluate the offer."

Monti ruled out heading any ticket himself, saying "I have no sympathy for 'personal' parties."

"I am not taking sides with anyone," but "I am ready to take on responsibilities, if asked by (the next) parliament," Monti said in his first public speech since resigning on Friday.

He said that if a polical force or coalition offered a credible programme that he supported, "I would be ready to offer my encouragement, advice and if necessary leadership."

Monti said he hoped the next government will have an ample parliamentary majority and believed the classic left-right divide was no longer adequate to tackle the problems facing Italy.

The former European Union commissioner was highly critical of his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, rejecting his offer to lead Italy's conservatives. He also cautioned Italians against heeding Berlusconi's populist policies and his electoral promises to cut taxes at a difficult time for the country's public finances.

bk/jr (Reuters, dpa, AP)

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