France's President Francois Hollande, left, and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, right, speak with Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti, center, before a working lunch at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Tuesday July 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Platiau/Pool)
PARIS (AP) — The Italian and French leaders are affirming their support for strengthening the eurozone, after a lunch meeting in Paris to discuss the continent's economic crisis.
Italian Premier Mario Monti says European leaders cannot "allow their attention to wander for even a minute" away from the currency union, where the number of unemployed was reported Tuesday at a record high.
French President Francois Hollande, standing at Monti's side, said there was significant progress toward strengthening the eurozone in recent weeks — a sign that the 17 countries that use the euro continue to want "a currency capable of giving Europe a coherent plan."
Economies across the region face deepening recessions, especially in Spain and Italy, where financial collapse could tear the 13-year old currency union apart and radiate through the global economy.
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