Merkel, Sarkozy, Monti begin emergency debt talks

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The leaders of France, Germany and Italy began emergency talks on Thursday in the shadow of a failed German bond auction which took the debt crisis to the core of the eurozone.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy is urging his German counterpart Angela Merkel to abandon her refusal to allow the European Central Bank to become a lender of last resort and so shield national budgets from sceptical markets.

None of the leaders spoke to the media as they arrived for a working lunch in a local governor's mansion in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, where they were later due to give a joint press conference.

By meeting Merkel and Sarkozy in Strasbourg, one day after talks with EU leaders in Brussels, Monti hopes to regain some of Rome's influence.

He was installed last week after Silvio Berlusconi's abrupt resignation and has said he aims to cut debt and promote growth to restore Italy's economic credibility.

© 2011 AFP

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