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Crisis leads Spain PM to pull out of LatAm summit

Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has pulled out of a summit in Latin America so as to combat economic woes at home, a government official said Wednesday.

Zapatero dropped out of the December 3-4 Iberian-American summit in Mar del Plata, Argentina and delayed an official visit to Bolivia that had been scheduled for December 2, the official said.

The prime minister would instead join his cabinet Friday to approve a new package: selling stakes in the state lottery and airports, ending a jobs subsidy and lowering taxes on small and medium-sized businesses.

Zapatero believes the economic measures “are important enough to stay in Madrid and cancel his participation in the Iberian-American summit,” said the official.

Spain’s Socialist government has slashed spending to rein in a public deficit that hit 11.1 percent of economic output last year, the third highest among countries using the euro after Greece and Ireland.

Latest proposals include selling off 30 percent of the state lottery, offloading a bigger stake in the main airport operator, scrapping a 420-euro (548-dollar) monthly subsidy to jobless workers without benefit rights and lowering taxes for 40,000 small and medium-sized businesses.