'Sarkozy to visit Israel to mend ties with Netanyahu'

Jewish French diplomat says French president to visit “soon” to try to clear up "misunderstanding" following alleged comments made to Obama.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER,
November 11, 2011 19:20
1 minute read.
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy 260. (photo credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

 
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Jerusalem to assuage the diplomatic damage caused by a gaffe he recently made at the G-20 gathering, a Jewish French diplomat said on Thursday.

France’s former special envoy to the Middle East Valerie Valerie Hoffenberg said her ex-boss would visit “soon” to try to clear up the “misunderstanding of the Israeli [government] concerning France’s position.”

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Sarkozy was quoted as calling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “a liar” in a conversation with US President Barack Obama at the G-20 summmit in Cannes earlier in the week.

The remark, which was made in private but overheard by the press, has created a full-scale diplomatic crisis involving the governments of three countries.

Sarkozy told members of the World Jewish Congress on Wednesday during a  meeting at the Elysée Palace in Paris that he had defended Netanyahu a number of times, according to sources from the gathering who spoke with The Jerusalem Post by telephone from the French capital.

“I have defended Bibi throughout my political life,” the French president said, according to the sources. He added that he was a longtime supporter of Israel and its leadership, even when people made anti- Semitic slurs against him as a result.



Sarkozy told the Jewish leadership he felt that Israel had lost the media war and had failed to make its case to the international community that it wanted peace, according to the sources.

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