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Salvini travels to Molise ahead of regional elections

Salvini travels to Molise ahead of regional elections

Far-right League party leader Matteo Salvini, left Rome late Thursday for a political rally in Isernia in the Molise region, where elections are being held on Sunday which observers say the rival populist Five-Star Movement could win.

Earlier, Salvini, conservative Forza Italia party leader and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, and rightwing Brothers of Italy party leader Giorgia Meloni held talks in Rome with Senate speaker Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati on a possible coalition government with the Five-Star Movement.

Casellati later on Thursday held talks with Luigi Di Maio, leader of Five-Star, which emerged as Italy's largest party in the 4 March ballot in which no single party or bloc won a clear majority.

Di Maio and Salvini, who leads the centre-right bloc - which has the most seats in parliament - have both claimed first bid to try and form a coalition government. Di Maio has insisted he must be prime minister, while Salvini has been more pragmatic during the post-election talks, suggesting that neither he nor Di Maio need be premier.

Berlusconi, whose tax fraud conviction and current trial for bribery pose an obstacle to a centre-right-Five-Star government - has postponed until Friday a planned visit to Molise as negotiations to break the post-election deadlock continue.