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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Gere apologises over Shetty kiss
Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty
Photographs of the embrace made the front pages in India

Actor Richard Gere has apologised for causing offence when he kissed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty.

The incident, at an Aids awareness event in Delhi, prompted public protests and then an arrest warrant for both stars over the "obscene act".

Gere, 57, said he had misread Indian customs and that he regretted any problems he had caused Shetty.

He asked for the "media circus" to end and hoped it would not detract from the message of preventing Aids.

Gere kissed Shetty, 31, several times on the cheek while sweeping her backwards in a tango-style move.

The court in Jaipur in Rajasthan state called it "an obscene act" after a local lawyer filed a complaint.

Gere said: "What is most important to me is that my intentions as an HIV/Aids advocate be made clear, and that my friends in India understand that it has never been, nor could it ever be, my intention to offend you.

I've felt terrible that (Shetty) should carry a burden that is no fault of hers
Richard Gere
"If that has happened, of course it is easy for me to offer a sincere apology."

Gere had earlier taken a tougher line, saying he expected any charge to be dismissed.

Speaking on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, the actor said the situation as "nothing".

"There is a very small right-wing, very conservative political party in India and they are the moral police in India... they do this kind of thing quite often," he said.

A judge had ordered Shetty to appear in his court on 5 May, saying she did nothing to resist the kiss, which he called "highly sexually erotic".

Gere said Shetty was not to blame for the incident.

"I've felt terrible that she should carry a burden that is no fault of hers," he said.

Buddhist beliefs

Photographs of the clinch were splashed across front pages of newspapers in India.

Public displays of affection are still largely taboo in India, and protestors in Mumbai (Bombay) set fire to effigies of Gere following the incident.

Shetty has defended Gere saying that it was all done "in good humour".

Under Indian law, a person convicted of public obscenity faces up to three months in prison, a fine or both.

Gere, star of films such as Chicago and Pretty Woman, is a Buddhist and travels to India frequently to visit the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in the north of the country.

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07 Feb 07 |  UK Politics

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