Italian premier open to talks with regions eyeing autonomy

Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni says the government is willing to open talks with representatives of two wealthy regions after voters there overwhelmingly passed referendums seeking greater autonomy from Rome.

Gentiloni said "it's possible, it's probable" certain services would work better if Lombardy and Veneto acquired greater powers from the central government. Regional leaders are seeking more autonomy over issues such as education, immigration, security and the environment, as well as retaining more tax revenue.

In his first comments since the Sunday vote, Gentiloni said Tuesday in Veneto that the government was "ready for talks" though he noted the specific issues and conditions up for discussion haven't been decided.

Sunday's peaceful votes reflected the same drive for greater self-determination seen in Spain's conflict-ridden Catalonia region.