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Francois Hollande to announce split from Valerie Trierweiler

Paris: French President Francois Hollande and First Lady Valerie Trierweiler would confirm their separation Saturday, a local weekly here reported after an affair between Hollande and actress Julie Gayet came out.

"Hollande, who took the initiative to break up (with his companion), hoped to officialize it before Valerie Trierweiler's travel to India scheduled for Sunday," reported Xinhua citing Le Journal de Dimanche.

President Francois Hollande and  his partner Valerie Trierweiler during happier times. The couple got together during the 2012 presidential race. Pics/AFP
President Francois Hollande and  his partner Valerie Trierweiler during happier times. The couple got together during the 2012 presidential race. Pics/AFP

The presidency office, the Elysee, was expected to release a statement in the day after they settled the terms of this separation Thursday over a lunch, it added.

Trierweiler, a columnist for the weekly magazine Paris Match, is not married to Hollande but assumed the role of first lady at official functions after his election in May 2012.

At a recent news conference, the president promised to clarify Trierweiler's status ahead of a trip to the US scheduled for Feb 9 after reports on his secret liaison with an actress.

He also insisted on his right to a private life, saying: "everyone in their personal life can face trials. That's our case. These are painful moments".

Meanwhile, Trierweiler is scheduled to visit India. She will be in Mumbai Sunday and Monday for a visit organised and funded by a French aid agency, Action Against Hunger, a BBC report said Saturday.

The Closer magazine published a report two weeks ago that 59-year-old Hollande was having an affair with 41-year-old actress Julie Gayet. It published pictures of the president wearing a helmet arriving via scooter to visit the actress at night.

Gayet had first been introduced to Hollande in 2011 by his former partner Ségolène Royal, a senior member of his Socialist party and a 2007 presidential candidate. Hollande has four children with Royal, who announced their separation just after she lost the 2007 election to Nicolas Sarkozy.

Earlier, a press conference to unveil economic plans was overshadowed by questions over Hollande's private life, as was a trip to Rome to meet the pope Friday.

Hollande is the most unpopular president in modern France, according to polls. He has struggled to live up to a promise to reduce unemployment, currently stuck near 11 percent.

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