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News Summary: New Italian PM to meet Merkel

The Associated Press

BERLIN BOUND: Italy's new Premier Enrico Letta is making his first trip abroad, visiting Germany in his bid to persuade European leaders to ease the pressure on his country to pursue painful austerity measures.

ANGELA ANGST: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is a strong advocate of structural reforms, spending cuts and deficit reduction across Europe, has been criticized during Italy's election campaign for her tough stance. Newspapers and politicians — including some now backing Letta's coalition government — have the outgoing government of being a stooge to "la Merkel" in Berlin.

FIG LEAF: Beside seeking to persuade Merkel to ease off austerity, analysts say he also seeks to reassure financial markets about his government's seriousness by working closely with Germany.