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French president splits with first lady

Saturday, January 25, 2014 | 2:42 PM    

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PARIS, France (AP) — French President Francois Hollande has split with the country's first lady two weeks after a tabloid reported that the leader was having an affair with an actress, an official said Saturday.

A presidential aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorised to speak publicly about the matter, confirmed that Hollande ended his seven-year relationship with Valerie Trierweiler.

The break-up was first reported by French news agency Agence France Presse, which said that Hollande told it in a telephone conversation Saturday evening that "I make it known that I have put an end" to the relationship with Trierweiler.

Hollande, who has four children with former presidential candidate Segolene Royal, told the news agency that he was speaking in a personal capacity and not as head of state.

He and Trierweiler have lived together since 2007, and while they're unmarried, Trierweiler occupied the so-called madame wing of the presidential palace, travelled abroad with Hollande and functioned as the first lady.

Hollande had dodged questions about Trierweiler's status since a January 14 news conference at which he refused to say whether the 48-year-old journalist was still the first lady.

Those questions surged to the front pages of the world's newspapers after French tabloid Closer reported, with photographs backing it up, that 59-year-old Hollande was having an affair with Julie Gayet, a 41-year-old actress.

That caused Trierweiler to check into a hospital for a weeklong stay after the tabloid's report about the affair, during which suspense continued to build over the next twist in the love triangle.

Hollande promised at his news conference to clear up confusion over the identity of his first lady before a scheduled February 11 state visit to the US.

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