ROME – Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday said he has been in a steady relationship since separating from his wife, as he stepped up efforts to beat back allegations that he paid for sex with a nightclub dancer.

The surprise announcement from the self-confessed lover of beautiful women comes as Berlusconi faces growing pressure over a prostitution probe in which he is suspected of paying to sleep with 17-year-old Karima El Mahroug at his private parties.