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Benetton Clothing Company Yanks Pope-Imam Kiss Ad


A Benetton clothing store window in Paris is covered by posters showing Pope Benedict XVI kissing Egypt's Ahmed el Tayyeb and US president Barack Obama kissing his China's Hu Jintao, November 17, 2011.

A Benetton clothing store window in Paris is covered by posters showing Pope Benedict XVI kissing Egypt's Ahmed el Tayyeb and US president Barack Obama kissing his China's Hu Jintao, November 17, 2011.

Italian clothing manufacturer Benetton has withdrawn a controversial ad showing Pope Benedict kissing a leading Islamic leader.

The Vatican has said it will take legal action in connection with the ad, unveiled Wednesday and yanked shortly thereafter.

The photo was one of a series of artificially created pictures in a campaign named "Unhate." Other photos depict the North and South Korean leaders kissing, and lip locks between the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as U.S. President Barack Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The Vatican called the picture of the pope kissing Sheik Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb a "totally unacceptable" show of "grave disrespect."

The Obama administration also spoke out against the ads. A presidential spokesman said Thursday that the White House disapproves of using the president's name and likeness for commercial purposes.

Benetton said the campaign was meant "solely to combat the culture of hatred in all its forms."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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