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ROME, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Italy's upper house of parliament approved on Wednesday a government request to borrow up to 20 billion euros ($20.8 billion) to underwrite the country's troubled banks.
The vote came just minutes after the lower house had also given its authorisation for a hike in the national debt to cover an eventual intervention.
The twin votes clear the way for government action, possibly this week, with Italy's third largest lender, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, likely to request state funds to prevent it from collapse. ($1 = 0.9618 euros) (Reporting by Crispian Balmer)