“The technical gaffe is likely to cause great embarrassment to all three leaders as they look to work together to intensify international pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.”
At least with microphone gaffes from the last guy, we got the “major league” incident on the campaign trail, and better yet, the idea that Hizballah needed to “stop doing this [you-know-what].”
But this is going to be awkward, and indeed plays into the hands of Iran at an inopportune time. As Biden once put it, also in range of a microphone, it’s a big… deal. “Sarkozy tells Obama Netanyahu is a ‘liar’,” by Yann Le Guernigou for Reuters, November 8:
PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy branded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a liar” in a private conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama that was accidentally broadcast to journalists during last week’s G20 summit in Cannes.
“I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama, 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.
“You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” Obama replied, according to the French interpreter.
The technical gaffe is likely to cause great embarrassment to all three leaders as they look to work together to intensify international pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
The conversation was not initially reported by the small group of journalists who overheard it because it was considered private and off-the-record. But the comments have since emerged on French websites and can be confirmed by Reuters.
White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to comment on the conversation when asked by reporters traveling with Obama to an event in Philadelphia.
Obama’s apparent failure to defend Netanyahu is likely to be leapt on by his Republican foes, who are looking to unseat him in next year’s presidential election and have portrayed him as hostile to Israel, Washington’s closest ally in the region.
Pushing Netanyahu risks alienating Israel’s strong base of support among the U.S. public and in Congress.
Netanyahu’s office declined to comment, but one of his deputies, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, played down the episode.
“Everyone talks about everyone. Sometimes even good friends say things about each other, certainly in such competitive professions,” Shalom, a former foreign minister and rival of Netanyahu in the rightist Likud party, told Israel’s Army Radio.
“So you have to consider the main things. Is Obama a friend of Israel? Is Sarkozy a friend of Israel? Is their policy a consistent policy of support for Israel? The answer to all of these questions is affirmative and, as far as I’m concerned, that is what’s important.”