The Latest: Italy's president OKs populist pick for premier

MILAN — The Latest on the drawn-out negotiations to form Italy's next government (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

Italy's president has tapped politically inexperienced law professor Giuseppe Conte to be the premier who will head Italy's first populist government.

The president's office announced Thursday that Conte had accepted the role and would be sworn in Friday afternoon with Cabinet ministers.

Conte read the list of ministers and told reporters in a brief statement: "We will work with determination to improve the quality of life of all Italians. "

The announcement indicated that President Sergio Mattarella had accepted all of the ministers proposed by the anti-EU 5-Star Movement and League on their second try. The populists' choice for a euroskeptic economy minister was the sticking point that led their first attempt to form a government to fail last weekend.

5-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio and League leader Matteo Salvini came up with a compromise earlier Thursday that led the president to postpone trying to install a technical government until a new election could be held.

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8:10 p.m.

Italian president Sergio Mattarella has summoned the pick for premier by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and right-wing League as Italy edges toward a populist government on the second try.

Mattarella summoned law professor Giuseppe Conte to his office Friday evening, just an hour after a technical premier-designate stepped aside in a fast-changing political landscape.

Conte had been expected to teach at Florence University on Friday morning, but with signals that the 5-Stars and League might get another shot at forming a government, he grabbed a train for Rome.

The two leaders, Luigi Di Maio of the 5-Stars and Matteo Salvini of the League, announced after meeting at the parliament that they had reached an agreement to form a political government — an outcome that avoids an interim, technical government and a swift return to the polls.

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7:45 p.m.

A former IMF official tapped to lead Italy's government until a new election could be held has stepped aside, paving way for political government of populists.

Premier-designate Carlo Cottarelli told reporters on Thursday that "it is no longer necessary to form a technical government." He made the announcement after meeting with President Sergio Mattarella to formally renounce the post.

The leaders of two populist parties, Italy's anti-migrant League party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, earlier announced they had reached a deal that would enable them to form a government.

Their first try failed when Mattarella rejected their choice of economy minister as dangerously euroskeptic.

But after they signaled they were willing to compromise, the president put Cottarelli on standby and gave them another shot.

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7:30 p.m.

The leader of Italy's anti-migrant, euroskeptic League party is expressing cautious optimism that he and the leader of the 5-Star Movement are back on their way to forming western Europe's first populist government.

Matteo Salvini posted a message on Facebook after meeting with 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio and announcing they had reached new terms days after their initial coalition agreement was scuttled.

Salvini wrote: "Maybe, finally, we are there."

The timing of any new government was unclear, but developments were moving quickly. President Sergio Mattarella has called to his office the former IMF official he'd tapped to run a possible interim government of technocrats. Carlo Cottarelli was expected to formally step aside.

Salvini says it took "dedication, coherence, listening, patience, good sense, head and heart" to get a second chance while facing "many obstacles, attacks, threats and lies."

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7:15 p.m.

Italy's populist leaders are getting a second shot at putting together a government.

The leader of the 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, and League leader Matteo Salvini said in a statement Thursday that they have achieved "the conditions for a political government."

The political landscape in Italy has shifted swiftly in the last two days. President Sergio Mattarella put on hold a possible interim government of technocrats Wednesday after getting signals that the two populist parties were willing to compromise on the composition of their Cabinet.

Salvini and Di Maio's initial attempt to form western Europe's first populist government foundered early in the week when Mattarella refused their choice of an anti-euro economy minister.

As a next step, Mattarella has called the IMF official he named as premier-designate of a technical government to a Thursday night meeting. Carlo Cottarelli was expected to formally step aside.

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4:05 p.m.

The leaders of two populist parties in Italy are meeting in Rome amid revived prospects for a political government after their first attempt failed on their choice of a euroskeptic economy minister.

A day after the possibility of a governing coalition between the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League was revived, League leader Matteo Salvini canceled appointments in northern Italy to travel to Rome.

Salvini declined to respond to reporters' questions when he arrived at the Rome airport. News agency ANSA said he went straight to the lower house of parliament, where he met with 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio.

The possibility that the 5-Star government and the League could come up with a government acceptable to Italy's president buoyed financial markets, despite their euroskeptic views.

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10:05 a.m.

Financial markets have calmed amid signs that Italy may avoid imminent elections after President Sergio Mattarella gave two populist parties time to figure out whether they can agree on an alternative to a euroskeptic economy minister.

The leader of the 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, has proposed moving the contested ministerial candidate to a different Cabinet post. League leader Matteo Salvini, meanwhile, said he isn't closing the doors on any solution.

But he's also showing some resistance to the change, saying "if someone in Berlin or Paris wakes up in a bad mood that doesn't mean that an Italian minister gets kicked out."

Mattarella gave the leaders time to form a coalition government after markets plunged on news of an interim administration that would take Italy to new elections.

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