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BERLUSCONI TO FORM NEW GOVERNMENT

Italy's president asked Silvio Berlusconi on Friday to form a new government. On Wednesday, Berlusconi had stepped down as premier after a crushing defeat in regional elections.

The new government would be Italy's 60th since the republic was founded in 1946.

Berlusconi must provide President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi with a list of new ministers, who could be sworn in as early as today. Berlusconi also said he expects to go before parliament for a confidence vote next week.

The conservative leader said the government's new platform would focus on aiding Italy's underdeveloped south and poor families.

Berlusconi's troubles stem from his conservative coalition's embarrassing defeat in regional elections this month, where it lost 12 out the 14 regions at stake.

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