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Italy PM takes aim at migrants, austerity in his inaugural speech

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The leader of Italy's new populist government vowed Tuesday to redistribute migrants in the EU and review EU sanctions against Russia, in his first policy speech to lawmakers since being sworn in.

Giuseppe Conte addressed the Senate ahead of two parliamentary confidence votes expected to confirm his new cabinet, formed from a coalition of far-right and eurosceptic parties.

His eurosceptic government was sworn in on Friday after almost three months of political turmoil that alarmed EU officials and spooked financial markets.

Conte's maiden policy speech reaffirmed several of the coalition's key manifesto themes, including a tough line on migrants, rejection of economic austerity and conciliatory gestures toward Moscow.

"We want to reduce our public debt, but we want to do so with growth and not with austerity measures," he told senators. "We will strongly call for the Dublin Regulation to be overhauled in order to obtain respect for a fair distribution of responsibilities and to achieve an automatic system of compulsory distribution of asylum seekers."

On Russia, which faces EU sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, Conte said, "we will promote a review of the sanctions system."

Both former premier Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party - a campaign ally of the League - and the outgoing center-left Democratic Party have said they will not vote in favor of the new government.

But the alliance between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League is expected to pass the confidence votes in the Senate on Tuesday and in the lower Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday as the two parties hold a majority in both houses.

On Conte's agenda in his first weeks in office are a Group of Seven summit in Canada this week and a key EU summit at the end of the month.



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