ArcelorMittal agreed to negotiate on steel mill plan, says Italian premier

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says steelmaker ArcelorMittal has agreed to try for a negotiated solution over the fate of a southern Italian steel plant.

Conte and his economy and economic development ministers held four-hour talks ending Friday before midnight with ArcelorMittal's top executives.

Union leaders on Saturday insisted that any deal must exclude layoffs.

The French-Indian steelmaker, currently renting the mill, wants out of a contract obliging it to buy the Taranto plant. It cites production concerns and Italy's removal of immunity from prosecution in case of environmental damage.

Conte said both sides have agreed to seek a delay of next week's court hearing over the contract dispute.

He told reporters: Let's allow this negotiation to develop with the goal of agreeing on an industrial plan using clean technology. The company didn't immediately comment.

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