Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy continued to be the subject of allegations about his private life which he rebutted by saying, “I've never paid for a woman in my life”. Mr Berlusconi is due to chair the annual G8 meeting of leading industrialised nations which takes place in Italy next month.

In the tribal areas of Pakistan an unmanned US aircraft caused 80 casualties when it bombed a village. In Afghanistan the new US commander-in-chief warned that air attacks could be counterproductive if not handled carefully.

President Sarkozy of France told a rare joint meeting of the two houses of parliament that he opposed the wearing of the burqa by Muslim women and thought the practice was “Not wanted on French soil”.

In Britain the Members of the House of Commons chose John Bercow as their new Speaker. Bercow was the youngest of ten candidates and became the first Jew to hold the position.

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