[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 June 2007, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Apology over 'drunk' Sarkozy clip
French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a clip from Belgian television
The clip is one of the most popular on YouTube

A Belgian newscaster has apologised for suggesting French President Nicolas Sarkozy was drunk during a news conference at last week's G8 summit.

A clip of the incident, posted on the YouTube video website, has been watched hundreds of thousands of times.

It shows Mr Sarkozy, who insists he is a teetotaller, appearing short of breath and euphoric before reporters.

Belgian broadcaster RTBF said presenter Eric Boever asked the French embassy to convey his apologies to the president.

Boever presented footage from the opening moments of Mr Sarkozy's news conference following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the comment that "apparently he had more than just water to drink".

In the clip, Mr Sarkozy offers apologies to journalists for being late and then pauses, as if on the verge of laughter, before inviting questions.

'Bad taste'

Boever said the remark was made in jest, and that he apologised "for the proportions that this is taking".

Mark Mardell
If it happened to Blair, it would be the only source of discussion
BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell

"I obviously did not want to offend French national sensitivities, especially since I am also French through my mother," he added.

A spokesman for the president declined to comment, saying "it is not common practice... to comment on bad taste jokes".

Mr Sarkozy, who was making his international debut at the summit, says he does not drink alcohol and is a long-distance runner.

Profile: Nicolas Sarkozy
16 May 07 |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific