Carla book author stands by Michelle Obama anecdote

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The author of a book on Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on Friday stood by his account of US First Lady Michelle Obama complaining about life in the White House, but admitted she was probably joking.

Both the White House and the French embassy in Washington firmly denied Thursday that Obama had told Bruni that she found life as first lady to be "hell", as recounted in the biography "Carla and the Ambitious".

But journalist Yves Derai, co-author of the book with Michael Darmon, told AFP that the pair stood by their account of the March 31 dinner at which the two first ladies allegedly had the exchange.

"We maintain this account but in terms of interpretation I think the Americans are overanalysing this. It was an exchange that was in a jokey tone, not serious. It was an informal dinner, relaxed," Derai said.

"I won't reveal my sources, of course."

Obama's reported comments stirred a minor media storm in Washington after the news website The Drudgereport linked to a story in the British tabloid The Daily Mail that focused on the alleged exchange.

The French embassy announced that Bruni-Sarkozy distanced herself from the account and that Obama had not used the phrase attributed to her. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs relayed the French statement on his Twitter feed.

© 2010 AFP

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