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Italy's Monti huddles with political moderates, businessmen wanting him to run for new term

Italian Premier Mario Monti has finished a four-hour huddle with political moderates, businessmen and other backers as he weighs whether to run in elections in February for a fresh term.

Monti said in a tweet that after an "afternoon of intense work" he would give a news conference in Rome later Friday evening.

The economist was appointed to lead a non-elected government 13 months ago tasked with preventing Italy from falling victim to the eurozone debt crisis. He said this week that he would be willing to head the next government if he receives backing from political forces for his austerity agenda of spending cuts and more taxes. But he has stopped short of saying he'd declare himself an actual candidate.