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Berlusconi unapologetic for Obama remark

November 8, 2008
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BRUSSELS - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, under fire at home for describing President-elect Barack Obama as "suntanned," said yesterday that he saw no need to apologize.

Visiting Moscow on Thursday, Berlusconi described Obama as "handsome, young, and also suntanned."

His center-left opponents called the comment racist; Berlusconi responded by saying they were "imbeciles without any sense of humor."

At yesterday's news conference after a European Union summit, an American reporter asked: "Prime Minister, do you realize that your comment on Obama is offensive to the United States? Why don't you apologize?"

Berlusconi responded: "Give me a break! You have just put yourself on that list of people [imbeciles] I mentioned yesterday!"

When the reporter pressed for an answer on why Berlusconi did not deem it necessary to apologize, the prime minister, clearly irritated, said: "Why? You should apologize to Italy!" He then walked out of the room.

The controversy was on the front pages of most Italian newspapers yesterday. "Berlusconi never fails to live up to our worst expectations," said an editorial in the Rome daily La Repubblica.

REUTERS

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