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Rajoy, Monti, Hollande to discuss euro zone on Friday

MADRID (Reuters) - The leaders of Spain, France and Italy will meet on Friday on the sidelines of a Mediterranean summit in Malta, the office of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Wednesday.

The meeting between Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and French President Francois Hollande will take place at 1600 GMT.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter said the three leaders would discuss financial issues in the euro zone, including a plan to help Spain handle its finances.

"This will be discussed in Malta," one of the sources said when asked about the timing of a Spanish request to trigger a bond-buying programme from the European Central Bank and the euro zone rescue funds.

Senior euro zone sources told Reuters earlier this week that Spain was ready to request a euro zone bailout for its public finances and but Germany has signaled it should hold off.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Tuesday that a rescue for his country was not imminent.

Privately, several European diplomats and a senior German source said Chancellor Angela Merkel preferred to avoid putting more individual bailouts for distressed euro zone countries to her increasingly reluctant parliament.

A September ruling by Germany's constitutional court has also limited Merkel's room for maneuver, putting conditions on use of European rescue funds.

Euro zone officials are considering offering Spain a so-called Enhanced Conditions Credit Line that would keep Spain in the credit markets with support from the euro zone rescue funds in the primary bond market and from the ECB in the secondary market.

(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Fiona Ortiz)

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