Italy's Prodi appears set to return to office

Romano Prodi on Saturday appeared set to return to office as premier, after his center-left allies renewed their support in his government. Prodi was expected to get the nod from the Italian president, who held two days of talks aimed at solving the political crisis that began with Prodi's resignation on Wednesday. The president, Giorgio Napolitano, said he would announce his decision on Saturday. Prodi stepped down after an embarrassing parliamentary defeat over foreign policy, including the government's plan to keep troops in Afghanistan. Defections by radical leftists, who have been voicing opposition to various government policies, were to blame. In consultations with the president Friday, all center-left leaders said they were ready to support any bids by Prodi to return to the premiership. They all asked Napolitano to reject Prodi's resignation and send him back to parliament to face a new vote of confidence - a technique employed sometimes in this country to bring a swift end to political crises.