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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 17:06 GMT
Berlusconi apologises to his wife
Silvio Berlusconi
Mr Berlusconi's apology is as public as his wife's demand for it
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has said sorry to his wife for flirting with other women after she demanded a public apology.

Mr Berlusconi issued a written statement, referring to the constant pressure he was under from work, trips, politics and problems.

Veronica Berlusconi, his second wife, said his flirting damaged her dignity.

She had demanded the apology in a front-page letter to the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica.

In the statement, issued via his Forza Italia party, Mr Berlusconi said: "Forgive me, I beg you. And take this public show of my private pride giving in to your fury as an act of love. One of many."

"I guard your dignity, like a treasure within my heart, even when careless comments slip off my tongue," said Mr Berlusconi, 70.

Flirtatious comments

Veronica Berlusconi is mother of three of Mr Berlusconi's children.

I guard your dignity, like a treasure within my heart, even when careless comments slip off my tongue
Silvio Berlusconi

She said her husband had told some women at a TV awards dinner: "If I wasn't already married I would marry you right away".

Mr Berlusconi was quoted as telling another woman: "With you I'd go anywhere".

Commentators say the fact she chose for her complaint a prominent left-wing publication - traditionally critical of Mr Berlusconi - would have added to her husband's embarrassment.

"Today for my female children, already adults, the example of a woman defending her own dignity in her relationships with men takes on a particularly significant importance," she said.

Confronting her husband over his behaviour would also remind her son Luigi "to never forget to keep among his fundamental values respect for women," she added.

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