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Book airs Berlusconi wife's views

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (R) and Veronica Lario, June 2004
Veronica Lario wants her husband to get sex counselling

Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper is publishing extracts from a new edition of a book giving the views of PM Silvio Berlusconi's estranged wife.

The book - called The Veronica Trend, after Veronica Lario, Mr Berlusconi's second wife - is written by a close friend who works for the paper.

Ms Lario is seeking a divorce, accusing her husband of lying about his relationship with a teenager.

The Italian media have all but ignored stories about the PM's sex life.

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Many media outlets - print, television and online - are controlled by Mr Berlusconi himself.

In an article written by journalist Maria Latella, she is quoted as saying that finding out he attended the 18th birthday party in Naples of an aspiring model was the final straw.

"It was the latest lie. Better then to try to seek a last way to respect myself, better to divorce," 53-year-old Ms Lario is quoted as saying. "He forced me into this situation."

Crossing the line

She says she can no longer stop him making a fool of himself.

"I've come to the end of the line," she says.

But she also says that she might consider standing by her man if he undergoes counselling at a sex clinic.

The author of the book - who says she has known Veronica Lario for 18 years - describes Mr Berlusconi's wife as a rational and very prudent person with a strong sense of family.

She told the BBC that the couple had several years ago reached an understanding that they would lead separate lives but with mutual respect for each other.

However, the recent sordid allegations about Mr Berlusconi's private life, Ms Latella said, angered his wife and violated this arrangement.

"Berlusconi was trespassing the borders of the agreement," she said.

The BBC's David Willey, in Rome says Mr Berlusconi is said to be planning to attend a special Mass of repentance celebrated by a senior Vatican Cardinal in the earthquake-stricken town of L'Aquila on Friday, where participants go each year to seek forgiveness for their sins.



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