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Berlusconi fun at food summit

Italian PM ribs Gaddafi, tells Karl Marx joke

16 November, 16:24
Berlusconi fun at food summit (ANSA) - Rome, November 16 - Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was in fine form as he chaired Monday's world hunger summit in Rome, ribbing Libya's Colonel Gaddafi about his famously long speeches and telling a joke about Kark Marx.

"Five minutes from Colonel Gaddafi would be too much to hope for but I appeal to his good nature," Berlusconi said in calling the Libyan leader to the rostrum.

After Gaddafi spoke for only ten minutes, the premier told the assembled leaders: "We've set a record of brevity for the colonel that will go down in the history of his appearances at international summits".

He also told a joke about Karl Marx in which he returns to Earth, goes before the Supreme Soviet assembly and says: "Workers of the world, sorry".

Many leaders smiled and he even got a laugh out of Jacques Diouf, head of the World Food Organisation.

Earlier, the Italian premier had jokingly asked the assembly to sack Diouf because one of the names on the summit's panels was missing.

The flamboyant Italian premier is known for taking the stuffiness out of formal occasions with jokes and quips.

Last Friday he showed his playful side again when he moved a tall Serbian minister away from him in a photo op.

Berlusconi, who is among the world's shorter leaders, looked in a tight spot when he realised Serbia's towering Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovic was looming over him.

Amid general amusement, he quickly moved the giant minister to the end of the row and replaced him with a shorter official, Interior Minister Ivica Dacic.

The irrepressible Berlusconi has always taken pride in expressing his fun-loving nature at international meets.

And he recently dubbed the approach 'peekaboo diplomacy' after an impromptu gag at an Italian-German summit last year.

Spotting German Chancellor Angela Merkel walking up to the entrance, he ducked behind a lamp-post and popped out as she passed by, saying 'peekaboo'.

The chancellor spread her arms wide in amusement, saying ''Oh, Silvio,''.

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