German politician tries to ease dispute over election remark

Steinbrueck calls Napolitano after Italy cancels political meet

German politician tries to ease dispute over election remark

Berlin, February 27 - After an unpleasant diplomatic incident Wednesday, Peer Steinbrueck telephoned Italy's president to try to clarify matters, a spokesman for the German politician said. The call from the Social Democratic candidate for German chancellor to President Giorgio Napolitano came after Italy cancelled an appointment over remarks about the Italian vote. Meanwhile, Napolitano made some sharp remarks of his own in Munich as part of a State visit to Germany. "We respect Germany, but we demand respect" in return, said Napolitano. The incident came after Steinbrueck said Tuesday that he was "horrified by the victory of two clowns" in Italy's elections, referring to centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi and anti-establishment comedian Beppe Grillo. Napolitano on Wednesday slammed Steinbrueck's "two clowns" statement as "completely misplaced, if not worse," in explaining why he scrapped their meeting. A spokesperson for Steinbrueck responded to the rebuff on Wednesday saying that the politician showed "understanding for Giorgio Napolitano's decision". Steinbrueck's rival conservative CDU candidate for the chancellory Manfred Kolbe told ANSA: "Peer Steinbrueck is a snob and Napolitano did extremely well to cancel the meeting".

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