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Italy's Monti leaves future open, says wants to influence ideas

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti avoided a direct comment on his political future on Tuesday but said he wanted to continue playing a role in influencing opinion in whatever role he filled after elections expected in February.

"Politics is above all a question of culture, that is, trying to give direction to people's ideas," he told state television RAI.

"I think I did it when I was a professor, I'm trying to do it in this brief period when I'm prime minister, I'm sure that whatever hat I'm wearing in future, I will continue to do it," he said.

"As For the rest...," he said, leaving the phrase unfinished.

There been wide speculation that Monti could become Italy's next president or join forces with a centrist grouping to take part in the campaign for national elections early next year.

(Reporting By James Mackenzie)

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