Sarkozy's behaviour 'irritated' Italian minister
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has told a German newspaper he was "irritated" by French President Nicolas Sarkozy's smirk when asked about Italy's budgetary discipline at an EU summit.
Frattini said he did not feel "humiliated" but commented: "Mind you, President Sarkozy's body language irritated me," according to an advance copy of an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to be published Friday.
"It was obviously embarrassing to the chancellor too," he added, referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday said Merkel had apologised for exchanging a knowing smirk over the Italian premier with Sarkozy during a news conference in Brussels on Sunday.
It has sparked Italian press reports this week slamming Europe's power couple for ridiculing Italy, which was under the spotlight at EU talks to tackle the eurozone's debt crisis.
The leaders of France and Germany had appeared at pains to offer a clear answer when asked if Berlusconi had their confidence to fight Italy's giant debt, and images of them smiling were splashed in papers and widely broadcast on TV.
Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert has denied she said she was sorry.
Seibert said on Twitter: "No apology from the Chancellor because there was nothing to apologise for. Berlusconi and Merkel have good, open talks among friends."
Frattini opted to focus on the French leader.
"Sarkozy's display was not OK. Yes, Italy has homework to take care of, but one must not make us look silly," Frattini said.
© 2011 AFP