- - Sunday, December 23, 2012

ITALY

ROME — Caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti said Sunday he won’t run in February elections, but if political parties that back his anti-crisis agenda ask him to head the next government, he would consider the offer.

Mr. Monti ruled out heading any ticket himself, saying, “I have no sympathy for ‘personal’ parties.”

At a news conference, Mr. Monti made clear he was spurning an offer from predecessor Silvio Berlusconi to run on a center-right election ticket backed by the media mogul, citing Berlusconi’s heavy criticism of his economic policies.

Mr. Monti’s decision ended weeks of speculation that dominated Italian politics and preoccupied Europe, which is eager to see Mr. Monti’s financial reforms continue.

The premier, an economist who has spent 13 months tasked with trying to right Italy’s troubled economy, said Berlusconi’s flipping between condemning the government’s economic policies and then praising the premier convinced him that “I couldn’t accept his offer.”

Mr. Monti was tapped by Italy’s president to lead the country after Berlusconi was forced to resign, having lost the confidence of international markets.

He stepped down Friday after Berlusconi’s party withdrew its support from his technical government, but has been asked stay on in a caretaker capacity in the run-up to Feb. 24-25 elections.

Other centrist parties in Parliament have been urging him to run for another stint as premier. Mr. Monti said “I won’t line up with anyone,” but made clear he would be available to head the next government.

RUSSIA

Putin to focus one conomy on trip to India

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin arrives Monday in India on a visit intended to help cement Russia’s position in the growing Indian market and reinvigorate political ties.

Following Mr. Putin’s talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian officials Monday, Moscow and New Delhi will sign agreements on trade, science, education and law enforcement.

While the volume of Russian-Indian trade has risen sixfold since 2000 and is expected to reach $10 billion this year, the growth has slowed in recent years.

And even though India remains the No. 1 customer for Russia’s arms industries, Moscow recently has lost several multibillion-dollar contracts to Western weapons-makers.

Story Continues →