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Govt not at risk, Conte says no exit - Draghi

Never asked for ex-PM's head says PM

(ANSA) - ROME, JUN 30 - The government is not at risk and 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader and former premier Giuseppe Conte has "confirmed" the M5S will not be exiting the government for an external support over a row over a rumoured ouster request by his successor, Premier Mario Drag hi said Thursday.
    "I'm optimistic, the government is not at risk and it will not go on without the M5S, said Draghi, ruling out a reshuffle and saying that the success of the government's action was also due to the "generosity" of the broad national-unity majority backing it.
    Draghi denied, again, reports that he had asked M5S founder Beppe Grillo to oust Conte.
    "I never made the statements attributed to me about the M5S", he said.
    Draghi reportedly confirmed to President Sergio Mattarella his commitment to moving forward with the government in talks at the presidential palace Thursday, while ex-premier Conte reportedly told Mattarella Wednesday that his M5S would not exit the government to give only an external backing for it, sources said Thursday.
    Conte complained that he had heard that Draghi allegedly asked M5S founder and stand-up comic Grillo to oust the former premier from the movement, which Draghi denied saying he would clear the matter up with his predecessor as PM.
    Many M5S members reportedly exerted increasing pressure on Conte Thursday to pull out of the national unity coalition and instead lend external support.
    Draghi met President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday officially to report to the head of state on the situation regarding Italy's international commitments, sources said, but the alleged Conte case loomed large in the background.
    This week Draghi took part in G7 and NATO summits.
    The meeting between the PM and the president took place at a delicate time for Draghi's executive.
    Draghi returned to Rome from the NATO summit in Madrid early on Wednesday amid soaring tension with his predecessor Conte, the leader of the 5-Star Movement (M5S), a key part of the ruling coalition.
    Conte reacted with fury at reports that Draghi had contacted M5S founder Beppe Grillo to have him removed from the helm of the movement.
    The premier's office denied that Draghi had sought to have Conte ousted and said the reason for his early return from Madrid was in order to prepare for a cabinet meeting on Thursday with more measures to curtail sharp rises in energy bills.
    Conte had talks on Wednesday with Mattarella about the issue.
    Friction with the ruling coalition was already high after Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio recently quit the M5S to form his own group after a big row with Conte over military aid for Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
    Di Maio said Conte's calls for the government to stop sending weapons to Kyiv risking putting Italy out of synch with respect to its EU and NATO allies. (ANSA).


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