Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister who drew criticism last year when he described Barack Obama as "suntanned", rejected a comparison of the two leaders` approaches to the global economic crisis by saying: "I`m paler", according to Telegraph.co.uk.
Mr Berlusconi was responding to questions from journalists about his stewardship of the Italian economy, which has lurched into recession despite his assurances that the country is well-placed to weather the world crisis.
"I`m paler [than Mr Obama], because it`s been so long since I went sunbathing. He`s more handsome, younger and taller," quipped the media mogul, who is renowned for his gaffes.
Mr Berlusconi, 72, was accused of racism in November when he hailed then President-elect Obama as "handsome, young and also suntanned".
The Italian leader accused his critics of lacking a sense of humour, and a few days later repeated the observation about Mr Obama`s skin tone.
Mr Berlusconi pays careful attention to his own appearance, sports a year-round tan, and is known to have had a face lift and hair implants.
He has described the global economic downturn as a "virus", which originated in the United States and is now attacking Italy.
He has accused the Italian media of exaggerating the depth of the crisis and has told Italians that, with their low levels of private debt, they are better placed than other Europeans to withstand it.