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article imageItalian PM makes another reference to Obama being 'tanned'

By Chris Dade     Sep 28, 2009 in World
Addressing supporters in Milan, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi again made reference to U.S. President Barack Obama being "tanned."
After returning from last week's G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Mr Berlusconi traveled to the northern Italian city of Milan to address a rally of his conservative supporters.
Mr Belusconi, who the London Times reports as having said last year that President Obama was "young, handsome, and even has a good tan," told the supporters of his People of Freedom party that he was bearing greetings from the United States. He went on to say that the greetings were from "What's his name? Some tanned guy. Ah, Barack Obama!"
Then the man who is the longest serving Prime Minister of Italy also made reference to Michelle Obama when he added "You won't believe it, but the two of them sunbathe together, because the wife is also tanned."
At a G20 summit in London in April Mr Berlusconi caused some in Italy to feel embarrassed when he was seen putting his arms around President Obama and giving the same thumbs-up gesture as the U.S. President when all the leaders present at the summit posed for the official photographs.
Whether that incident was still fresh in the mind of President Obama when he met Mr Berlusconi again last week is uncertain. But the far from warm expression on the face of the U.S. President when he and his wife greeted Mr Berlusconi at a G20 dinner in Pittsburgh may be some indication of his true feelings towards the Italian Prime Minister.
Furthermore, unlike the kisses she gave to other guests, Mrs Obama only had a rather formal handshake for Mr Berlusconi, who was pictured gazing at the gown worn by the President's wife, rather than at her face, and holding his hands out in apparent admiration at what he was seeing.
Despite the slightly uneasy atmosphere that seemed to accompany Mr Berlusconi's most recent encounter with the Obamas, the 72-year-old Italian leader (he is 73 on September 29) insists his country's relationship with the U.S. is good. He even referred to President Obama's use of a teleprompter in a semi-complimentary way.
No stranger to controversy Mr Berlusconi is being divorced by his wife Veronica Lario because of his alleged obsession with young women. That obsession has supposedly led to him appointing politically inexperienced, but glamorous, young women to political positions.
Other accusations leveled at Mr Berlusconi include one that he slept with a prostitute, the accusation has been made by the woman herself, on the night of President Obama's election victory. And, according to the Guardian, prosecutors in Bari, a port city in the south of Italy, are investigating claims made by a businessman involved in a cocaine case that he paid the expenses of young women sent to dinners and parties at the Prime Minster's residences in Rome and Sardinia.
Although the businessman in question says that Mr Berlusconi knew nothing of the arrangements, indeed the Prime Minister is not being investigated in relation to the matter, he does say that extra money was paid to some of the women because it was thought they may have sex with the Italian leader.
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