Embattled French first lady to travel to India
PARIS (AP) — France’s first lady is still scheduled to travel to India on a humanitarian trip starting Sunday, days after leaving a hospital where she was treated after a gossip magazine’s report that President Francois Hollande was having an affair.
Valerie Trierweiler is to visit a slum and a hospital during a long-planned trip to Mumbai to raise awareness about child malnutrition, the French charity Action Against Hunger said Friday.
“There is no official confirmation and we think there won’t be until Sunday morning — at the last minute,” said the charity’s spokeswoman, Anne Degroux. “As far as we’re concerned, she’s still coming.”
The future — or not — of Trierweiler as first lady has fanned huge speculation in France and beyond since Closer magazine reported two weeks ago that Hollande was in a secret liaison with actress Julie Gayet.
Trierweiler, a 48-year-old journalist, has been resting at a presidential residence since leaving the hospital Jan. 18. She is not married to Hollande.
Hollande has twice dodged questions about whether Trierweiler is still France’s first lady and has not denied the alleged affair with Gayet. He has acknowledged troubles in his relationship with Trierweiler but has called it a private matter. Hollande has said the issue of who France’s first lady is will be resolved before his state visit to the United States next month.
Trierweiler was expected to leave Sunday and attend a gala the next day for a new Indian charity, the Fight Hunger Foundation, at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel, Degroux said. The first lady was also to visit a pediatrics unit where children are being treated for malnutrition, and meet with researchers developing a nutritional paste to treat acute severe malnutrition.
Some 8 million children in India suffer from that condition, Degroux said.
No funds from the charity were being used to pay for her trip — only money from private donors, the charity said in a statement Friday.
It wasn’t clear what security detail Trierweiler might have in India. Her spokesman, Patrice Biancone, did not respond to repeated requests for comment Friday from The Associated Press. The presidential palace also declined comment.
Hollande made no mention of the controversy during a visit Friday to the Vatican, where he met Pope Francis for the first time.
Sylvie Corbet contributed to this report.