Sarkozy thought he was having a private conversation with US President Barack Obama at the conference.

Sarkozy reportedly told Obama: “I cannot stand him. He is a liar.”

Obama is said to have replied: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day.”

The remarks were meant to be kept private, but the leaders’ microphones were accidentally left on. The mistake went unnoticed for several minutes as French members of the press listened in on headsets provided for simultaneous translation during the G20 press conference.

The lack of coverage following the faux pas may be explained by a report alleging that event reporters were requested to sign an agreement to keep quiet about the embarrassing comments.

A member of the media confirmed yesterday “there wee discussions between journalists and they agreed not to publish the comments due to the sensitivity of the issue.”

Sarkozy has previously laboured to improve French relations with Israel.