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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Berlusconi bandana hides mystery
Silvio Berlusconi with white bandana
Man of mystery - Silvio Berlusconi's surprise white head-to-toe look
A pirate-style white bandana used by Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is believed to be hiding a lot more than a shiny scalp.

Speculation is rife in Italy about whether it provides a rather unsubtle disguise for a recent hair transplant.

A top surgeon has told one newspaper he carried out a delicate six-hour operation on Mr Berlusconi's head.

"The prime minister was very brave, he didn't wince once," Piero Rosati told Italy's Corriere della Sera paper.

The bright head-gear made its first appearance on an evening stroll on the Italian island of Sardinia, where Mr Berlusconi is entertaining UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie.

Mr Berlusconi has not confirmed the rumours, fuelling speculation by telling reporters that he would look even better with a few more hairs on his head.

Gossip about his new look overshadowed the two leaders' discussions on the situation in Iraq.

Last Christmas the 67-year-old sparked mass interest when he reappeared after a month's absence after reportedly having had cosmetic surgery around his eyes.

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