French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in a diplomatic knot after telling President Barack Obama, in what he thought was a private call, “Netanyahu is a liar.” The president also made a negative remark about the Prime Minister.
He and President Obama were talking in a private room after a press conference at the G20 summit in Cannes last week.
They did not know that their microphones were open and that reporters outside still were wearing their headphones they had used to hear simultaneous translations of President Obama’s remarks in public.
The French Web site Arret sur Images published the conversation.
President Obama complained to Sarkozy for not telling the United States ahead of time it would vote in favor of admitting the Palestinian Authority to UNESCO, a move the Obama administration opposed.
The conversation flowed to the subject of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Sarkozy: “I cannot stand him. He is a liar.”
Obama: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”
The president then suggested to Sarkozy that he try to convince PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to lay low in its attempt to win membership in the United Nations.
The French website apparently was the only media outlet to publish the remarks because other journalists who overheard the remarks – unintended for publication – agreed not to report the conversation.