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By CNN's Wolf Blitzer
(CNN) – Political leaders should always be careful of what they say anytime they are near a microphone.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Obama have learned that again – painfully.
According to a Reuters correspondent, the two men were chatting in Cannes, France, the other day when Sarkozy, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said: “I cannot bear Netanyahu. He’s a liar.” To which, Obama reportedly replied: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you.”
The two men did not know reporters were listening.. But it has now come out.
This isn’t the first time that an open microphone has embarrassed world leaders – and it won’t be the last.
It does come at a very awkward time for President Obama who has been actively trying to improve his relationship with the Israeli prime minister. That relationship was seriously strained for much of the Obama administration over the issue of Israel’s continued settlement activity on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
Still, the two men seemed to have worked through some of their differences during their most recent meeting in New York in September.
President Obama delivered what Netanyahu described as a very pro-Israel speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
In contrast, Netanyahu certainly didn’t like Obama’s State Department speech on the Middle East back in May.
I don’t know whether these latest comments will have any real impact on the U.S. relationship with Israel. My guess is they probably won’t. That’s because there have been many times over the decades when that relationship seemed very strained only to bounce back.
One example was in June 1990 when then-Secretary of State James Baker told Congress that the Bush administration was ready to walk away from the peace process because of Israel’s settlement activity.
“Everybody over there should know that the telephone number (of the White House) is 1-202-456-1414,” Baker testified. “When you’re serious about peace, call us.”
That was a pretty blunt warning to then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir who had just taken office.
Baker’s threat was also delivered over an open microphone. The difference was that he knew that the whole world was listening.
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