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France's embattled First Lady heading to India to back charity

(FILES) - A photo taken on August 28, 2013 shows French President Hollande's partner Valerie Trierweiler standing in Cabourg northwestern France, during the operation "Forgotten from holiday", organized by a French NGO to give a holiday to children who can't go on holiday with their family. AFP PHOTO / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU

PARIS: French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler will be in India on Sunday to back a charity after a two-week rest, including hospitalization, following revelations of her partner Francois Hollande's affair with a blonde actress.

Trierweiler "is going to Mumbai", an aide said, adding that the two-day trip was organised by French relief organisation Action Against Hunger and had been planned long in advance.

The aid group had invited Trierweiler in her official capacity and was paying for the trip, the aide said.

It is her first public trip following revelations of Hollande's affair with 41-year-old French actress Julie Gayet.

Trierweiler remains holed up in a presidential retreat near the chateau of Versailles outside Paris after leaving hospital last Saturday, where she was treated for a bout of "tiredness" brought on by the scandal. She was in hospital for a week.

On Thursday, Frederique Giffard, a lawyer for 48-year-old Trierweiler, said her client was aware that a "clarification" to the tangled situation was due.

Griffard remained evasive on the question of whether they would split, saying: "The president and my client are thinking. The decision is theirs alone. It is very difficult for Valerie Trierweiler to remain calm in the face of this media and political pressure. But she is aware that a clarification is necessary."

Trierweiler, in a furious reaction soon after, said Giffard was speaking without her permission and added that she was no longer her lawyer.

Her chief of staff Patrice Biancome said he was "the sole person authorised to speak in the name of Valerie Trierweiler", an announcement interpreted as a sign that she considered herself first lady and no clarification was necessary as far as she was concerned.

Hollande had promised in a mid-January news conference that he would publicly define what relationship he and Trierweiler are in before going on a February 11 state visit to Washington.

The 59-year-old leader has so far made no official comment on whether France still has a first lady.

Trierweiler, a feisty figure who has worked for the magazine Paris Match and was dubbed "Rottweiler" by detractors, was initially a discreet companion of Hollande when he was with a fellow Socialist Party heavyweight, Segolene Royal, the mother of his four children.

She emerged into the spotlight before he was elected president, and warned she would not be a wallflower, saying in April 2012: "I have character, they cannot muzzle me."

That was quickly proven when Trierweiler tweeted her support in legislative elections for an independent rival of Royal, someone with whom the first lady did not have warm relations.

The tweet went down badly in France, and Trierweiler's reputation suffered, with many deeming her somewhat haughty and arrogant.

But she has not commented on the scandal since French glossy Closer broke news of the affair on January 10.

She only tweeted after being released from hospital on January 19 to thank her supporters.

"Very touched," she wrote, using her personal and not her official account.

After Hollande was elected president, Trierweiler took a leave of absence from Paris Match and began to give time to charitable foundations.

 

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Summary

French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler will be in India on Sunday to back a charity after a two-week rest, including hospitalization, following revelations of her partner Francois Hollande's affair with a blonde actress.

On Thursday, Frederique Giffard, a lawyer for 48-year-old Trierweiler, said her client was aware that a "clarification" to the tangled situation was due.

Hollande had promised in a mid-January news conference that he would publicly define what relationship he and Trierweiler are in before going on a February 11 state visit to Washington.

After Hollande was elected president, Trierweiler took a leave of absence from Paris Match and began to give time to charitable foundations.


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