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Reports: Sarkozy Heard Telling Obama That Netanyahu Is 'A Liar'

President Obama, right, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy last Thursday in Cannes, France.
Jewel Samad
AFP/Getty Images
President Obama, right, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy last Thursday in Cannes, France.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was overheard last week telling President Obama that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "a liar," according to reports from Reuters, The Associated Press and other news outlets.

Sarkozy also said of Netanyahu that "I can't stand him," the stories say.

Obama, the AP says, was heard saying in response that "you are sick of him, but I have to work with him every day."

The AP adds that "Sarkozy's office would not comment Tuesday on the remarks, or on France's relations with Israel. The White House and Netanyahu's spokesman also said they had no comment."

The French president's candid comments were overheard Thursday by reporters who were at the G-20 summit in Cannes. According to Reuters, the two presidents were apparently "unaware that the microphones in their meeting room had been switched on, enabling reporters in a separate location to listen in to a simultaneous translation." It isn't known if any reporters recorded the conversation.

According to the France 24 news channel, the reporters made "a group decision ... not to report the conversation as it was considered private and off-the-record." But Arrets Sur Images, a French website that covers current affairs, got wind of the exchange and broke the story. Other news organizations then confirmed the account.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.