Obama teases Sarkozy on his looks


US President Barack Obama and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy hold a joint press conference, ahead of the start of the G20 Summit of Heads of State and Government on Nov. 3, 2011, in Cannes, France.


Lionel Bonaventure

There's nothing like awkward banter — or was it an insult? — to break the ice after tense discussions about the economic future of Europe.

President Barack Obama tried his best to get a few laughs today by teasing Nicolas Sarkozy’s looks before the two world leaders moved on to discuss the European debt crisis at the G20 Summit.

Obama congratulated the French president on the birth of his first child, Giulia, with wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy soon after he arrived at the summit in Cannes on Thursday.

"I want to congratulate Nicolas and Carla on the birth of Giulia," Obama said, according to the Associated Press. “I informed Nicolas on the way in that I am confident that Giulia inherited her mother's looks rather than her father's.”

He then added he thought it was “an excellent thing” that his daughter, Giulia, would resemble her Italian supermodel mother.

The AFP called it a sign “of a thaw between two leaders with a history of tense relations,” but poking fun at someone’s appearance — especially if that someone already seems a tad touchy — may not be the best route to diplomacy.

The Daily Mail reported:

Mr Sarkozy is notoriously sensitive about his looks, dieting constantly, and going out on power runs and cycle rides to keep in shape. He also has a nervous tic and prominent features which are often mimicked in France.

Many also have commented on his marriage to Bruni-Sarkozy, calling it an unlikely match. Sarkozy, who stands at 5 feet 5 inches tall, is four inches shorter than his wife and he is known for wearing stacked heels to give him a few inches.

Sarkozy, however, smiled broadly at Obama’s comment, and said he was only following Obama’s example.

“Well, you see Barack Obama's tremendous influence,” he said, according to Fox. “For four years now, he's been explaining to me that to be a father to daughters is a fantastic experience — he who has two daughters. So I have listened to him."