Entries in G20 Summit (5)


White House Tries to Clear Up Poke at Israeli Prime Minister

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- That "private" conversation President Obama had with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the G-20 summit in Cannes last week is causing the White House more of a headache than initially thought.

Obama and Sarkozy were caught on a live microphone making disparaging comments about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of their closest allies.

Sarkozy was heard saying, "I can’t stand to see him anymore, he’s a liar," while Obama said of Netanyahu, "You are fed up with him, but me, I have to deal with him every day."

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney tried to ignore the president's apparent annoyance with his Israeli counterpart, changing the subject instead to the administration’s dismay with the Palestinians attempting to seek membership to the United Nations.

However, Ben Rhodes, a spokesman for the National Security Council, addressed the matter more directly on Wednesday, saying that the president "has a very close working relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu.  They speak very regularly."

And as Obama mentioned, Rhodes said the president has "probably spent more time one on one" with the Israeli prime minister than any other head of state.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Israeli Prime Minister Is a Liar, French President Tells Obama

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(CANNES, France) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a liar in a conversation with President Obama caught on an open mic at last week's G-20 summit.

"I can't look at him [Netanyahu] anymore, he's a liar," Sarkozy told Obama, the French media website Arret Sur Images reported.

"You've had enough of him, but I have to deal with him every day," Obama is said to have responded.

The private conversation happened last Thursday in the southern French city of Cannes, heard by half a dozen journalists whose headphones were still receiving audio from the leaders' wireless microphones.

"By the time the team from the Elysee [presidential palace] realized, it must have been three minutes," one of the journalists told Arret Sur Images.

Reporters who overheard the remarks decided not to report them because they were intended to be private, but the news leaked onto the Internet nonetheless.

"We didn't record anything and using [the comments] would admit that we cheated," an anonymous reporter told the website.

It also quoted another member of the media saying, "there were discussions among the journalists there who decided not to do anything.  It's a sensitive subject: it's annoying to not publish this information, but at the same time we have agreed to precise ethical rules and printing these sentences would mean violating them."

Netanyahu's office declined ABC News' request for comment and the White House has yet to respond.

Sarkozy and Obama were discussing the recent admission of Palestine to UNESCO, part of its bid to get recognition at the United Nations.  The U.S. opposes the Palestinian efforts and Obama was reportedly chiding Sarkozy for not telling him France would vote in favor of Palestine in the UNESCO vote.  The U.S. later withdrew its funding for the cultural body which amounts to $70 million annually.

The conversation then turned to Netanyahu, which is when Sarkozy is said to have called him a liar.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama, Global Leaders Mingle in Cannes

Chris Ratcliffe-Pool/Getty Images(CANNES, France) -- While the first day of the G-20 summit was overshadowed by the European debt crisis and Greece’s political infighting, there was also plenty of room for pomp, circumstance and mingling between global leaders.

President Obama arrived at the official welcome ceremony Thursday morning as trumpets blared and was greeted on the red carpet by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“I was hoping to come and see some movies,” the president was overheard saying, joking about the city’s famous film festival.

Later, while touting the strong U.S.-French alliance, Obama reflected on his time in France as a young man.

“The last time I was in the South of France -- or the first time, rather, was as a college student, and I’ve never forgotten the extraordinary hospitality of the French people and the extraordinary views that are available here,” Obama said, although those famous views were obstructed Thursday by rain and dreary clouds.

After a series of bilateral meetings and strategy sessions, the president had a chance to catch up with his global counterparts at lunch. Obama tested out his Chinese, offering President Hu Jintao of China a greeting of “ni hao,” before cordially shaking his hand.

Obama also said hello to Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner, congratulating her on her recent reelection. Obama, who is campaigning for his own reelection in 2012, jokingly told Sarkozy that “we all have to take lessons” from Kirchner’s victory.

Later Thursday afternoon, the leaders were wrangled together to pose for their “class photo.” Obama stood in the front row flanked by Sarkozy and Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. After diligently standing for a few minutes, Obama quipped, “One more time!” as he smiled and waved before everyone broke rank.

Then it was off to a working dinner, where all of the leaders signed the G20 guestbook upon arrival.

“To the People of France and Cannes -- I am grateful for the wonderful hospitality, but even more grateful for the strong friendship and alliance between our two nations. May the bonds of our partnership strengthen in the years to come,” Obama wrote.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


G-20 Summit Begins with Greek Default Looming

David Ramos/Getty Images(CANNES, France) -- No one's going to be watching any movies when world leaders begin their G-20 summit in Cannes, France Thursday.

The big issue, and perhaps the only issue, is what to do about the European debt crisis that was aggravated this week by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's decision to put his country's bailout plan to a popular vote.

The European Union was ready to eat half of what's owed to them by Greece in return for its government imposing higher taxes and severely cutting back on social services that have nearly bankrupt the country.  But the Greek people are certain to turn down the referendum that won the backing of Papandreou's Cabinet on Wednesday.

Even before the summit started, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and officials from the EU and International Monetary Fund held an emergency meeting with the Greek prime minister and his financial chief to try to reach a compromise.

Should Greece default on its bills, the ripple effect would be devastating since so many European banks hold Greek debt.  The crisis has already affected global markets, including those in the U.S., although there was a modest rally on Wednesday both on Wall Street and abroad.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


G20 Summit Wraps Up; Leaders Pledge to End Imbalances

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SEOUL, South Korea) -- The G20 summit has ended with a long statement by leaders, amounting to a promise for trade cooperation.

The leaders' declaration charts a future in which all the countries agree on the need for more growth and less imbalance.  While some countries make profits selling lots of exports, others struggle, unable to export as many goods. To combat this problem, finance ministers proposed coming up with an early warning system to spot these imbalances.

The declaration  states, "We hold ourselves accountable.  What we promise, we will deliver."  But there may be no way to enforce the pledge.

President Obama seconded the pledge, seeming to take aim at China, saying, "No nation should assume that their path to prosperity is paved simply with exports to the United States."

Obama's tone towards China at the G20 summit softened comparably until a few weeks ago, when he complained loudly that China's trade behavior is "a real problem" and is "unfair."  "They can sell stuff cheaper [in the U.S.]," the president fumed, "and our stuff, when we try to sell there, is more expensive."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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