Carla Bruni-Sarkozy criticizes Berlusconi

Speaks out against prime minister's Barack Obama joke

PARIS -- French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy said she is glad not to be Italian any more after hearing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi joke about U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's "suntan."

Italian-born Bruni-Sarkozy, a top model-turned-pop singer, became a French national and lost her Italian citizenship after her marriage to French President Nicolas Sarkozy in February.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche published Sunday, she criticized Berlusconi for saying on Thursday that Obama, who will be the first black U.S. president, was "handsome, young and also suntanned."

"When I hear Silvio Berlusconi making light of the event (Obama's election) and joking about the fact that Obama is 'always tanned', it feels strange to me," Bruni-Sarkozy was quoted as saying.

"Some people will no doubt put it down to humor, but often I find that I am pleased to have become French," she said.

Italy's left-wing opposition parties accused Berlusconi of bringing discredit on the nation with the quip. He responded by calling them "imbeciles" with no sense of humor.