Berlusconi makes plea for unity from Bush ranch

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The Independent US

Silvio Berlusconi wrapped up a two-day meeting yesterday with George Bush at the President's ranch near Crawford, Texas, a reward for Italy's strong support for the war against Iraq, and also part of US efforts to mend fences with Europe after the conflict.

At a joint press conference, the Italian Prime Minister appealed for an end to the rift, which pitted France and Germany against Washington and caused a damaging split in the European Union, whose rotating presidency is held by Italy.

"We really need to support and develop a culture of union and cohesion and certainly not nurture the culture of division," said Mr Berlusconi, who this month provoked a bitter row with Germany after insulting a German member of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Mr Bush issued a new warning to Syria and Iran not to interfere with the Middle East peace process by sheltering terrorists. He accused the two countries of "completely unacceptable" behaviour. "States that continue to harbour terrorists will be held completely accountable," he said.