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Mandelson lashes out at Sarkozy as row escalates

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Mandelson lashes out at Sarkozy as row escalates

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European Union trade chief Peter Mandelson has hit out at the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as the war of words between the pair intensifies. The row is another sign of the rocky ride France looks to be in for, after taking over the presidency of the EU.

Mandelson says the French leader is undermining him and weakening Europe’s negotiating position in world trade talks. And he says he is “mystified” that Sarkozy has held him partly responsible for Ireland’s rejection of the EU’s new reform treaty.

The fallout from the Irish “No” vote as well as the squabble with the trade commissioner cast a shadow over yesterday’s pomp and ceremony in Paris.

Sarkozy has accused Mandelson and World Trade Organisation boss Pascal Lamy of trying to force a deal on the EU that would be bad for its farming sector.

Mandelson was notably absent from last nights’s special dinner at the French presidential palace.