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Italian president scraps meeting with German opposition leader over "clown" remarks

BERLIN, Feb. 28 — Italian President Giorgio Napolitano cancelled planned talks on Wednesday with German opposition leader and chancellery candidate Peer Steinbrueck after the latter referred to two Italian politicians as "clowns."

Visiting President Napolitano canceled a dinner appointment with Social Democratic Party leader Steinbrueck in Berlin, after the German opposition leader commented on Tuesday evening the outcome of Italy's election, saying that he was "appalled that two clowns have won," referring to former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi and comic-turned-politician Beppe Grillo.

Known for his sharp tongue, Steinbrueck voiced many German politicians' concerns over the indecisive election results in Italy.

The elections on Sunday and Monday ended in a stalemate, paving the way for a hung parliament as the center-left coalition is set to win control of Italy's lower house but is short of winning a majority in the senate.

The deadlock has sent shock waves across the whole eurozone with shares sinking to three-month lows on Tuesday.

Italy's stability over the past six months has been one of the reasons that concerns over the eurozone have eased.

Earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle urged Italy to continue its policy of reforms and form a stable government as quickly as possible.

"Italy plays a central role for a successful overcoming of the European debt crisis and, therefore, we count on the new government to continue the policy of consolidation and reforms in a consistent matter," Westerwelle said. (PNA/Xinhua)


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