Italy’s prime minister violated ceremonial procedure at Saturday’s NATO summit marking the alliance’s 60th anniversary, snubbing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to talk on his mobile phone.
Silvio Berlusconi was having a telephone conversation when he got out of his limousine in Germany’s Kehl. Expected to walk up the red carpet and greet Merkel, he instead gestured to the host that he would continue his conversation and headed toward the banks of the Rhine.
Usually unemotional, the German chancellor was unable to hold her smile.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the last to arrive. With a gesture he invited Merkel to follow on to the conference hall, which she did, giving up on Berlusconi who continued his call, missing the symbolic group photo on the bridge linking Germany and France over the Rhine.
French journalists joked that Berlusconi must be having an urgent talk with his wife.