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President's delay plea to Italian PM

By AP Reporters

Italy's president has asked Premier Matteo Renzi to delay stepping down until parliament can pass a critical budget law due later this month.

Head of state, President Sergio Mattarella, met Mr Renzi last night at the presidential palace in Rome.

The palace said Mr Renzi told the president "it's not possible to continue in his post" as premier following the resounding defeat on Sunday of a referendum on constitutional reforms that Mr Renzi promoted.

But Mr Mattarella asked the premier to delay his resignation until the budget goes through.

The news came as calls mounted from populist and other opposition leaders for quick elections in the country.

"With the referendum vote, the Italians have expressed a clear political signal - the desire to go as soon as possible to elections," wrote Vito Crimi and Danilo Toninelli, two of the top leaders of the populist 5-Star Movement.

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