Sarkozy dissuaded Putin from overthrowing Georgian leader: Report

November 13th, 2008 - 8:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, Nov 13 (DPA) French President Nicolas Sarkozy convinced Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin not to attack the Georgian capital Tbilisi and overthrow Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili this summer, the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur reported Thursday.Citing Sarkozy’s foreign policy advisor, Jean-David Levitte, the magazine said that the incident occurred at the Kremlin on Aug 12, when Sarkozy - as president of the European Union - was trying to negotiate an end to the Russia-Georgia conflict.

Sarkozy reportedly knew of the Russian plans because the French secret services had intercepted messages by Russian military leaders advising their generals to push the troops all the way to Tbilisi.

Facing Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Sarkozy reportedly said, “You cannot do that. The world will not accept it.”

Putin’s reply was typically brusque, the magazine said. “I will hang Saakashvili by the balls,” he told Sarkozy.

“Hang him?” the French president said.

“Why not?” Putin replied. “The Americans hung Saddam Hussein.”

“Yes,” responded Sarkozy. “But do you want to end up like (US President George W) Bush?”

That supposedly gave Putin pause, and he finally said, “You have a point there.”

According to the magazine, that exchange apparently saved Saakashvili’s head.

The Georgian president was scheduled to meet Sarkozy later Thursday in Paris, just ahead of Friday’s Russia-EU summit in the southern French city of Nice.

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