MILAN (Reuters) - Italian industry minister Flavio Zanonato is against selling units of defense group Finmeccanica without first checking if they can be kept in Italy, especially technology group Ansaldo STS , the minister told an Italian paper.

"I am against selling portions of Finmeccanica before having verified if we can keep them productively inside Italy," Zanonato was quoted as saying in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa.

"This is particularly true for an industrial jewel like Ansaldo STS."

Finmeccanica, 30 percent owned by the state and at the centre of a probe into alleged international corruption, is looking to sell non-core assets including Ansaldo STS to raise cash to reduce debt.

Finmeccanica controls 40 percent of Ansaldo STS. The group attracted last year interest from Japan's Hitachi , but talks later cooled, sources familiar with the issue told Reuters at the time.

Other assets on the block include power engineering business AnsaldoEnergia, which last year attracted at 1.3 billion euro offer from Germany's Siemens , and unprofitable train manufacturer AnsaldoBreda.

(Reporting by Lisa Jucca; Editing by David Holmes)

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