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Obama to host Berlusconi at White House

world Updated: Jun 08, 2009 09:06 IST
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President Barack Obama will host Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on June 15, the White House said on Sunday, as the Italian leader is shadowed by scandal back home.

"The president looks forward to discussing preparations for the G8 Summit that will take place in L'Aquila, Italy in July, and consulting with the prime minister on a broad range of strategic issues of mutual concern," the White House said in a statement.

Obama was wrapping up a historic trip to Europe on Sunday and was scheduled to return Monday to Washington.

On May 31, Berlusconi told Italian television that he and Obama would "discuss new global financial and economic regulations" ahead of the meeting of the G8, which groups the world's leading industrialized nations, the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and Italy.

Some 20 other countries have been invited to the meeting, including China, Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Italy, which currently heads the G8, will host the summit on July 8-10 in L'Aquila, the town that was devastated by an earthquake in April which claimed some 299 lives.

Berlusconi's announcement came as Italian media revealed that the conservative premier was seeking to block publication of photos of revellers in various stages of undress at his villa in Sardinia.

The explosive pictures were published Friday in the Spanish newspaper El Pais on the eve of European Parliament elections in Italy. While the prime minister brushed off the photos as "innocent," his lawyer vowed to sue El Pais.

The White House statement suggests Berlusconi's foreign diplomacy schedule will not be interrupted by the scandals hounding him back home, which also include accusations the media tycoon-turned-politician had a "spicy" relationship with a young model.