Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Friday refused to apologise for calling US president-elect Barack Obama "sun-tanned."
The outspoken premier was approached at a European Union summit in Brussels by a US journalist, who had asked him to say sorry for offending Obama with the racial slur, dpa reported.
"It is you who should be apologizing to Italy," an angry Berlusconi retorted before abandoning a press conference midway.
After provoking an outcry of disapproval back home for making his comment, Berlusconi on Thursday accused his critics of being "imbeciles," insisting that he had in fact meant to compliment Obama.
So when the US journalist insisted in Brussels on demanding an apology, Berlusconi replied: "Do you also want to be included in the list of those I defined yesterday?"
Berlusconi is renowned in Brussels for his gaffes.
Officials still remember when, upon assuming the presidency of the EU in 2003, he likened a critical German member of the European parliament as a concentration camp guard.