Silvio And Muammar

The Libyan dictator spoke to the Italian prime minister over the phone today, "telling him that Libya is fine and the truth about events in the country are being shown on state media." Robert Mackey takes a look at their friendship:

On Monday, Mr. Berlusconi had broken his silence over the reported atrocities in Libya, calling the use of force against civilians "unacceptable." The Italian leader, who has cultivated close ties with his Libyan counterpart, was criticized over the weekend for 02lede_italy-articleInlinesaying that he did not want to "disturb" Colonel Qaddafi during the bloody crackdown on  protesters. On Tuesday, Bloomberg News explained that the Italian and Libyan economies are closely linked. "Italy's trading ties with Libya make it the most exposed European Union country to any collapse in Muammar el-Qaddafi's regime," Bloomberg reported. ...

The close ties between the Italian and Libyan leaders became the subject of closer scrutiny and mockery last year, after an Italian newspaper reported that a young woman told Milan police that Mr. Berlusconi called sex parties at his home "bunga bunga," in reference to a rite of Colonel Qaddafi's harem. That led an Italian opposition party to put up posters in Rome showing Mr. Berlusconi's "evolution" into a version of the Libyan leader.