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Napolitano Cancels Steinbrueck Meeting Amid Italy-Germany Strain

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Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Italian President Giorgio Napolitano canceled a meeting with Peer Steinbrueck after the candidate to be Germany’s next chancellor ridiculed the results of this week’s election in Italy.

The meeting, scheduled for today in Germany, was called off, a spokesman for Napolitano said by phone. Steinbrueck’s comments, reported in German newspapers today, were “totally out of place,” Napolitano told journalists in Munich.

The inconclusive Feb. 24-25 election intensified tensions between the two countries as Italian voters rejected the fiscal austerity pushed by Germany as the cure for Europe’s debt crisis. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and ex-comic Beppe Grillo, who pledged to roll back the budget rigor imposed by outgoing premier Mario Monti, won about 55 percent of the popular vote.

Steinbrueck said yesterday that he was “horrified that two clowns won the election.”

Napolitano traveled to Germany yesterday and will remain in the country until March 1. He is scheduled to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Frye in Rome at afrye@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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