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Berlusconi Sees Tremonti for First Time Since Row on Aide Vote

Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and Giulio Tremonti
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, left, with Giulio Tremonti, Italy's finance minister. Photographer: Alessandra Benedetti/Bloomberg

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi held talks today with Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti for the first time since Tremonti skipped a parliamentary vote to block the arrest of the finance chief’s former top aide.

Berlusconi and Tremonti met for two hours at Palazzo Grazioli, the premier’s private residence in central Rome. The finance minister, who earlier today met with President Giorgio Napolitano, declined to answer questions from reporters after the talks.

Italian newswire Ansa said Tremonti’s meeting with the premier went well, citing unidentified officials close to the finance minister.

The minister was criticized by Cabinet members for skipping the Sept. 22 vote on a request by Naples prosecutors to arrest Tremonti’s former political adviser, Marco Milanese. A ruling-party lawmaker accused of corruption, Milanese served at the ministry until June 26. The 630-seat lower house of parliament voted 312 to 306 against the arrest. He denies any wrongdoing.

Tremonti’s absence from the vote prompted calls from some Cabinet ministers for his resignation, and other colleagues called on Berlusconi to rein in the minister’s powers.

Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League party, which guarantees Berlusconi’s majority in parliament, reiterated his support for Tremonti yesterday.

Tremonti was forced earlier this summer to publicly explain his ties with Milanese. In a July 7 statement, the minister said he was moving out of a Rome apartment provided by Milanese and in a letter published on July 29 in daily Corriere della Sera the minister acknowledged he had made “mistakes” while denying any “unlawful acts” related to use of the apartment.

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