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Monti weighs running as Italy sets stage for vote

Italian Premier Mario Monti delivers his speech at the Foreign Ministry on the occasion of the Italian Ambassadors conference in Rome, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. Monti's speech in Rome was his last official act as premier. He has pledged to step down as soon as Parliament gives final passage to the budget law, which happened just as diplomats were giving Monti a standing ovation. Italian news reports say he is expected to hand in his resignation Friday evening after his last Cabinet meeting. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

ROME (AP) -- Italy's president is meeting with political leaders to set the stage for general elections early next year as Premier Mario Monti weighs whether to run for office after having handed in his resignation.

Monti, appointed 13 months ago to steer Italy away from a Greek-style debt crisis, stepped down Friday after ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi's party yanked its support for his technical government.

His resignation sets the stage for President Giorgio Napolitano to dissolve parliament and set a date for elections, expected in February, after consulting Saturday with leaders of Italy's political parties. More eagerly anticipated though is Monti's decision, expected Sunday, as to whether he will run.

Small centrist parties have been courting Monti, but Italian newspapers said Saturday he was inclined to refuse. The center-left Democratic Party is expected to win.