Italian and German officials have formally refuted a newspaper report claiming German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a “secret” October telephone call to Italy’s president had asked for the ouster of then premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano’s office issued a statement denying the account, which had appeared in the US daily Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

“With reference to some press rumous – international and Italian – it is stated that in the phone call, not at all secret, of October 20, 2011, to the president of the republic, Giorgio Napolitano, the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel, did not pose any questions on Italian domestic politics,” the statement said, as cited by German press agency DPA.