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Berlusconi Says G-7 Finance Minister May Meet Within Days

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Photographer: Alessandra Benedetti/Bloomberg

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called for finance ministers from the Group of Seven nations to meet in the coming days as they struggle to calm concerns that the euro-region debt crisis and global economy will worsen.

“I can anticipate that we may call in a few days for a G-7 meeting of finance minister that may prepare for a G-8 heads of state meeting,” Berlusconi told reporters in Rome today, flanked by Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti. The situation requires “coordinated intervention by various states, above all by nations that share the euro.”

His spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti, said after Berlusconi’s address that the meeting wasn’t certain and that Italy will seek backing from France, the current G-7 president, to call for ministers to meet as soon as possible. “Italy views this possibility favorably,” Bonaiuti said.

European officials are renewing efforts to stamp out the region’s debt crisis against the backdrop of a slumping global stock market. While the rout slowed today on optimism that faster Italian austerity measures will prompt the European Central Bank to prop up the country’s debt, Berlusconi said leaders are still facing a “very difficult situation. ”

Berlusconi was speaking after a flurry of phone calls involving him, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Merkel will talk later with U.S. President Barack Obama.

G-7 finance ministers were previously due to meet Sept. 9-10 in Marseille, France.

Some economists questioned what such a summit could achieve.

“The toolkits the G-7 nations have at their disposal are almost exhausted,” said David Owen, chief European economist at Jefferies International Ltd in London. “Interest rates are still at record lows so there isn’t much there in terms of stimulus, the fiscal positions are worse and the banks are in much worse shape as well. The G-7 basically has its hands tied and it’s a very serious situation.”

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