French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Friday he had not been aware of a discussion in Brussels on the Roma issue between President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that has led to a bilateral row.

“I did not witness (such a discussion), although I was present the entire time,” Mr. Kouchner told Europe 1 radio. “The president also did not tell me anything about it. I don’t know if it took place somewhere off on the side.” Mr. Sarkozy told journalists in Brussels on Thursday that Ms. Merkel had told him she was planning to clear illegal Roma settlements in Germany, just as he and his government were doing in France.

That declaration was firmly denied several hours later by Ms. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, who said that the chancellor never discussed clearing “supposed” Roma settlements in Germany with Mr. Sarkozy, “neither during the EU summit, nor on its margin.” Asked which of the two leaders was not telling the truth, Mr. Kouchner replied, “History will decide that.”

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