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Berlusconi has no plans to reconcile with wife

PRIME Minister Silvio Berlusconi has no plans to seek a reconciliation with his wife and has demanded an apology from the former actress for comments she made.

His wife Veronica said over the weekend she planned to file for divorce, days after publicly criticising Berlusconi's selection of pretty young women to run in European elections.

La Stampa newspaper quoted the premier today as saying he had ordered his lawyers to take care of the situation and that Veronica's comments might even warrant a lawsuit.

"To tell the truth, there may even be conditions to sue for defamation, but it's best to leave that alone," he said.

Lamenting to the Corriere della Sera daily that his wife had "fallen into a media trap", Berlusconi said salvaging his marriage of 19 years appeared unlikely now.

"I don't think so, I don't know if I want it this time. Veronica should publicly apologise to me," Berlusconi said.

"And I don't know if that will be enough. It's the third time that she has pulled off a trick like this during an election campaign. It really is too much."

Berlusconi said he did not believe the media frenzy surrounding his private life would have an impact on his approval ratings or the European elections in June.

Berlusconi, a 72-year-old media magnate, defended his party's choice of female candidates that his wife had lambasted last week as "shamelessly trashy".

"We never included any showgirl in the list and the three that we excluded at the last minute were very capable girls, with an excellent education. Anything but showgirls," he said.

"Veronica has believed many inaccurate things written in the press, unfortunately."

He also shrugged off Veronica's anger at his presence at the Naples birthday bash of an 18-year-old woman. He said he agreed to stop by only at the insistence of her father, an old friend.

"There's nothing strange here, it's happened several times with birthdays and marriages," Berlusconi said.

Supporters of Berlusconi have criticised Veronica, who rarely appears with him and has long lived in a separate house, for the latest public clash with her husband. The two have been together for 29 years but got married only in 1990.

Berlusconi, who is Italy's second-richest man, has three children aged 20, 22 and 24 with Veronica.

However, it is his two children by his first marriage who play the most prominent roles in his business empire.

Son Piersilvio is vice-chairman of media group Mediaset while daughter Marina chairs holding company Fininvest and publishing arm Mondadori.


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