Italy's Monti to lead centrist coalition in February polls

Italy's caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti told an impromptu news conference Friday that he will contest February elections at the head of a centrist coalition expected to counter a comeback by conservative former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"I agree to assume the role of head of the coalition, and I will commit myself to guaranteeing the success of this operation," Monti said after meeting for four hours with representatives of centrist groups and civic organisations.

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