Kamis, 27 Desember 2007

French president Sarkozy and Bruni fly to Red Sea resort (AFP)

LUXOR, Egypt (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his new girlfriend Carla Bruni flew out of Egypts Luxor on Wednesday aboard a tycoon friends private jet headed for the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Sarkozy, once more making controversial use of billionaire businessman Vincent Bollores plane, left the paparazzi to take commercial flights in their pursuit of the French leader and the ex-supermodel turned singer.

As the French leader left, former British prime minister Tony Blair arrived in the Nile resort of Luxor for his holidays, although the pair did not meet.

During his time in office in Britain, Blair -- now international Middle East peace envoy -- often spent his Christmas holidays in Egypt.

Before their departure, the French couple visited another of Luxors renowned tombs that is usually closed to the public, this time that of pharaoh Ramses IIs favourite wife, Nefertari.

Italian-born Bruni, 39, wore a figure hugging black shirt, while recently divorced Sarkozy opted for a khaki shirt as they posed for photos with Egyptians working on archaeological digs.

"Our guide told us we had to pay 150 euros (220 dollars) each to visit the tomb," said one French tourist after the couple left. "He said hed ask for it to be left open so that we could also go in."

The French presidential party will be staying behind the high walls of a private villa in Sharm.

Sarkozy is to travel to Cairo on Sunday on his first official Middle Eastern visit for talks with President Hosni Mubarak, but without Bruni whose appearance in an official capacity alongside her lover could spark outrage in conservative Egyptian society.

An Egyptian source said however that Sarkozy, Bruni and Mubarak might have a private breakfast together at the Egyptian presidents villa in Sharm on Friday away from the media.

While almost all media attention is focused on Sarkozys relationship with Bruni, heiress to a tyre fortune whose former boyfriends include rock stars Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, the use of Bollores plane has also drawn flack.

French opposition parties have accused the president of compromising his office and asked what the plastics-to-media magnate can expect in return for his generosity.

Sarkozy triggered a similar row after his election in May when he spent several days on Bollores private yacht off Malta.

The businessman denies seeking to influence the president, noting that less than one percent of his holding companys turnover comes from government contracts.

eXTReMe Tracker