World

Just a joke: Berlusconi says he has no plans to become the Russian economy minister

  • FILE -- In this April 26, 2010 file photo, then Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during a press conference at Villa Gernetto, in Gerno, near Milan, Italy. The Kremlin is denying that President Vladimir Putin offered to make Silvio Berlusconi his economy minister, though he did extend "metaphorical support" to Italy's embattled ex-premier. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)

    FILE -- In this April 26, 2010 file photo, then Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during a press conference at Villa Gernetto, in Gerno, near Milan, Italy. The Kremlin is denying that President Vladimir Putin offered to make Silvio Berlusconi his economy minister, though he did extend "metaphorical support" to Italy's embattled ex-premier. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE -- In this March 7, 2012 file photo, Vladimir Putin, left, gestures talking to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as they sit in a gondola lift during their meeting in the mountain resort of Krasnaya Polyana near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia. The Kremlin is denying that President Vladimir Putin offered to make Silvio Berlusconi his economy minister, though he did extend "metaphorical support" to Italy's embattled ex-premier.  (Alexei Druzhinin/RIA-Novosti, Goverment Press Service via AP, File)

    FILE -- In this March 7, 2012 file photo, Vladimir Putin, left, gestures talking to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as they sit in a gondola lift during their meeting in the mountain resort of Krasnaya Polyana near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia. The Kremlin is denying that President Vladimir Putin offered to make Silvio Berlusconi his economy minister, though he did extend "metaphorical support" to Italy's embattled ex-premier. (Alexei Druzhinin/RIA-Novosti, Goverment Press Service via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE -- In this Oct. 22, 2009 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi share a word during a meeting with Russian businessmen in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Kremlin is denying that President Vladimir Putin offered to make Silvio Berlusconi his economy minister, though he did extend "metaphorical support" to Italy's embattled ex-premier. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Goverment Press Service via AP, File)

    FILE -- In this Oct. 22, 2009 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi share a word during a meeting with Russian businessmen in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Kremlin is denying that President Vladimir Putin offered to make Silvio Berlusconi his economy minister, though he did extend "metaphorical support" to Italy's embattled ex-premier. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Goverment Press Service via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

Did Russian President Vladimir Putin offer former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi a job as economy minister? Berlusconi says it was just a joke and Putin says any support was "metaphorical."

A boast by Berlusconi that his old friend Putin had offered to make him economy minister made headlines around the world this week.

But Berlusconi spokeswoman Deborah Bergamini says he was just joking, and Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Putin wasn't really offering the Italian a job.

In comments carried by Interfax news agency Thursday, Peskov said Putin was offering only "metaphorical support" — "not as a formal offer to occupy any official post."

He notes that foreigners cannot work in the Russian government.