Berlusconi plays down power grab

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has backed off from suggestions he may be seeking a comeback.

He has even hinted he could support in the next elections Mario Monti, the non-political economist named to succeed him as premier to steer the country away from financial disaster.

The 76-year-old media mogul said in an interview on a family-controlled TV station that he could take "a step backward" to allow moderates to form a coalition that could defeat the left in elections in the spring.

He said he "wouldn't exclude" Mr Monti as leader of such a moderate group.

With a personal legacy tarnished by sex and corruption scandals, Mr Berlusconi has sought to play at least a role as a power broker since resigning.