, KEHL, Apr 4 – Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi made yet another faux pas on Saturday, talking on his mobile instead of posing for a group photo with NATO’s other 27 leaders on a bridge spanning the Rhine.
Arriving on the German side of the river, Berlusconi got out of his limousine talking on his mobile phone and instead of walking to greet Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel turned to the river bank and continued his call.
Left standing alone on the red carpet, Merkel smiled weakly at the Italian and proceeded to greet half a dozen other leaders including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown as they arrived in their motorcades.
Once the leaders had all arrived seven or eight minutes later, Merkel gave up on Berlusconi and went to join the other leaders inside, peeking out at one point to see if the Italian was coming in — but in vain.
His phone call continued, and when a brass band struck up, Berlusconi put his finger in his ear and walked further down the river bank to escape the noise.
The leaders, including US President Barack Obama, then crossed the bridge to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy who crossed from the French side before meeting midway and posing for a photo — without Berlusconi.
Meeting on the bridge between old foes France and Germany was of symbolic significance as NATO leaders began the final day of a summit marking the military alliance’s 60th anniversary.