A private catty conversation between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama about their mutual dislike for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was caught on mike, leaving both of them red-faced
Paris: France President Nicolas Sarkozy was caught branding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a liar when a microphone was left on during a private conversation at the G20 summit.
The French president thought he was having a discreet chat with US President Barack Obama in a private room during the talks in Cannes last week.
Presidential faux pas: French President Nicolas Sarkozy was heard telling US President Obama that he did not trust Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (below) to which Obama retorted that he was fed up with him too. pic/afp
But the men were overheard by six french journalists still wearing headsets they had put on for a simultaneous translation of Obama's public remarks.
The conversation began with Obama chiding Sarkozy for not telling him that France would vote to admit the Palestinians into the UN body UNESCO -- a step the US opposes.
From there, the two men began discussing the Israeli PM Netanyahu in an exchange which has now been published.
Sarkozy is then overheard saying, "I cannot stand him. He is a liar."
Obama is reported to have replied, "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!" The US president then urged Sarkozy to try to persuade the Palestinian Authority to step down its campaign for membership of the United Nations.
After three minutes, French officials realised the conversation was being eavesdropped and cut the microphones.
The journalists then agreed not to publish the overheard chat and stick to the 'rules of conduct' but one reporter later leaked the details.
Both the White House and Elysee Palace have refused to confirm or deny that the exchange took place.
Strained relationships US President Obama has had a frequently strained relationship with the Israeli leader.
In March last year, Netanyahu was left to stew in a White House meeting room for over an hour after the president allegedly walked out of tense talks to have dinner with his family.
'Yo Blair' "Yo, Blair. What are you doing?" was an informal greeting that US President George W Bush gave to British PM Tony Blair during G8 in St on 17 July 2006.