MOSCOW (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin’s quip on the sex scandal surrounding his Israeli counterpart almost stole the show from his talks with visiting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert which focused on Iran.
Putin, who was speaking seconds after the two leaders made statements at the opening of their meeting at the Kremlin, was caught on reporters’ microphones telling Olmert “say hello to your president — he really surprised us.”
Israeli police announced on Sunday that evidence gathered during a weeks-long investigation was enough to charge President Moshe Katsav with rape and sexual harassment of several women, rocking Israeli politics.
Although the recording was cut immediately after the remark, a top official in Olmert’s delegation told reporters that Putin then said “we did not know he knew how to deal with 10 women,” referring to the number of women who had filed complaints Katsav had molested them.
This in turn drew “roaring laughter in the room.”
According to the same source, Olmert replied to his host by saying “I wouldn’t envy him if I were you.”
Talking to reporters later in the evening, Olmert declined to confirm the details of the discussion, saying that he would not comment on the scandal unless an idictment is submitted against Katsav.
The 60-year-old head of state has vigorously denied the allegations — the most serious ever leveled against an Israeli leader — and has so far refused to step down from his largely ceremonial post.