Italian clothing firm Benetton went ahead Saturday with a controversial ad campaign featuring key world figures kissing each other, despite outcry last week from the Vatican and the White House.

A photo-montage of an embrace between the Pope and a Muslim cleric was dropped after the Vatican threatened legal action but the rest of the campaign remains unchanged.

An image appearing to show US President Barack Obama smooching his Chinese opposite number Hu Jintao was published in Italy’s biggest daily the Corriere della Sera on Saturday.

La Repubblica, Italy’s other main daily paper, published a double page spread showing eurozone strongmen Nicolas Sarkzoy and Angela Merkel puckering up.

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