Berlusconi says Merkel said sorry for smirk, Germany denies

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Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had apologised for her behaviour at an EU summit where she exchanged a knowing smirk over the Italian premier with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

But Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert denied she said she was sorry.

Seibert said on Twitter: "No apology from the Chancellor because there was nothing to apologise for. Berlusconi + Merkel have good, open talks among friends."

The Italian press this week slammed Europe's power couple for ridiculing Italy during a press conference in Brussels last Sunday.

During a brief interruption at a new round of summit talks, Berlusconi called a friend at the RAI television network and said: "Merkel came to excuse herself for last Sunday."

"She told me she hadn't wanted to denigrate Italy," he added.

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.

President Giorgio Napolitano, who is widely respected by ordinary Italians, slammed the German chancellor and French president for "inappropriate and unpleasant public expressions."

Berlusconi said that Sarkozy's failure to greet him at the Wednesday summit was because he "did not have the opportunity."

© 2011 AFP

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