According to The Guardian, President Sarkozy did not realize his microphone was live when he spoke with President Obama as part of the G-20 meetings in Cannes, France.
According to the report first published on the French website Arret Sur Images, Obama also criticized Sarkozy for not telling him in advance that France planned to vote in favor of the Palestinians' UNESCO membership bid. The conversation then turned to Netanyahu, The New York Times reports:
"I cannot stand him," Mr. Sarkozy was quoted as saying. "He is a liar."
Mr. Obama is reported to have replied, "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!"
The remarks reportedly were overheard by half a dozen journalists. A reporter from Reuters also confirmed "the veracity of the comments."
A BBC correspondent notes that the French media initially kept quiet about the diplomatic faux pas so as not to embarrass President Sarkozy. Israeli media outlets, however, published the frank exchange in full.
The White House has not yet issued a statement on the matter.