Italy PM’s wife wants divorce

ROME: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's wife Veronica Lario is to seek a divorce following 30 years of marriage after finally running out of patience over his roving eye, newspapers said on Sunday.

Berlusconi himself refused to comment on the details of the reports but acknowledged a "painful" phase in his private life.

"Veronica's choice: Farewell Silvio," said the frontpage headline of La Stampa while the rival la Repubblica led with the headline: "I've decided, I want a divorce", with both papers quoting close friends.

The two papers both said that Veronica had contacted a divorce lawyer and given instructions to proceed towards a separation as quickly as possible.

The reports come only three days after Veronica wrote an open letter to newspapers saying that her husband's well-known penchant for pretty women was a source of "suffering".

"I want it to be clear that I and my children are the victims and not accomplices in this situation. We must put up with it and that makes us suffer," she wrote in a letter splashed across the Italian press.

The letter, the second such public outburst from Vernonica, dealt mainly with Berlusconi's choice of candidates from his People of Freedom party to stand in European Union elections set for June.

Some are reportedly pretty young women with no political experience, including a television actress and a former Miss Italy candidate.

"The presence of pretty women in politics is neither a plus nor a minus," said Lario, a 52-year-old former stage actress who is 20 years Berlusconi's junior and his second wife.

"But behind the facade of curvaceous feminine beauty, what is even more serious is (Berlusconi's) impudence and lack of reserve ... that offend the credibility of all women," said Lario, adding: "especially those who have always been in the front line defending their rights."

Berlusconi had reacted to the letter by saying his wife should not believe the "left-wing press" but he acknowledged on Sunday that his marriage was going through a rocky period.

"This is painful personal affair which should remain private and it does not seem to me to be right to be talking about it," he told the Italian media."

The couple married in 1980 and have three children, all in their 20s.