French President Nicolas Sarkozy told US President Barack Obama last week he was fed up with dealing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and considered him a liar.
Sarkozy made the comment during a private conversation with Obama during a G20 summit in the French riviera town of Cannes last week and the remarks were overheard by a small number of journalists but not initially reported.
"I cannot bear Netanyahu, he's a liar," Sarkozy told Obama during a frank exchange where the US president took him to task for backing a Palestinian request for membership of the UN cultural heritage agency UNESCO.
A Reuters reporter was among the journalists present and can confirm the veracity of the comments, which were relayed by a French internet outlet on Tuesday.
Obama said he had to deal regularly with Netanyahu even if Sarkozy was fed up with the Israeli leader, according to the translation of a French interpreter during their Cannes exchange.
In their quest for statehood recognition, the Palestinians have requested membership of the overarching United Nations system, in addition to its Paris-based UNESCO subsidiary.
France voted in favor of a UNESCO request that succeeded but said last week it would abstain in any vote on membership of the overarching UN system, which Washington has vowed to veto. Paris and Washington are urging renewed peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.