The exchange between Sarkozy and Hu got so heated, said a source -- who is not a member of the Obama administration -- it was threatening the unity of the G-20 leaders' meeting.
"They were going through the revised draft," a senior Obama administration official said.
The issue: Sarko wanted "a list of non-compliant jurisdictions," tones that allow tax havens, he senior official said. "Other countries wanted it too, but (Sarkozy) was the most outspoken."
Sarkozy specifically was pushing for a list from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to be included in the G-20 Leaders' Statement.
Headquartered in Paris, the OECD has 30 member countries -- all capitalist democracies.
China opposed any such list being included in the final Leaders' Statement.
"China tends to have a problem endorsing the documents of organizations like the OECD that they're not a party to," the senior administration official said.
But Mr. Obama, according to this account, stepped between the two men, urging them to try to find consensus, and giving them a "pep talk" about the importance of working together.
The senior adminstration official said that Mr. Obama pulled Mr. Sarkozy aside, took him to a corner, "and discussed possible alternatives," the senior official said.
Once they arrived at one, President Obama "sent a message to the Chinese" that a counter-offer was on the table. The Chinese spent some time considering the offer. But they took a few minutes.
So Mr. Obama, with the assistance of translators, suggested that he and Mr. Hu have a conversation as well. They, too went to the corner to talk. After a few minutes, Mr. Obama called upon Mr. Sarkozy to join them.
"Translators and sherpas in tow, they reached an agreement," the official said. "There was a multiple shaking of hands."
President Bush just was not that into foreign affairs, unless it was about the Iraq or Afghanistan Wars. He never tried consensus or tried to find that one something to bring folks together, sorry he just did not. And after seeing the mastery of Obama, one wonders how in the hell did George W. Bush ever get elected president? It is damn refreshing to have someone of intellect, one who understands people in the White House. President George W. Bush is a reminder of what we never should have as a leader in charge of this country ever again.