Report: French president to remarry
(AP) - Recently divorced President Nicolas Sarkozy will marry his former supermodel girlfriend next month, a French newspaper reported Sunday.
The weekly Le Journal Du Dimanche, citing unidentified sources, said Sarkozy gave Carla Bruni a heart-shaped diamond engagement ring in December and that the pair would wed on Feb. 8 or 9.
The presidential palace declined to comment on the report.
Sarkozy, who divorced his wife Cecilia in October, has flaunted his relationship with Bruni on recent holidays in Egypt and Jordan, drawing criticism that he is being too loose with the presidential image.
Political analyst Dominique Moisi said that a Sarkozy proposal to Bruni could be an effort to head off any future controversies, and its speed would fit with his personality as a busy man in a hurry.
"Apparently, he's going to be marry her, so the problem will be behind him," Moisi said. "He will multiply the opportunities to travel with her, (and) to say to the French, 'You see, I must remarry ... You need a first lady.'"
Sarkozy, a reform-minded conservative with a pro-American slant, has sought to shake-up France since his May election by trimming bureaucracy and revving up a stalled economy.
But polls suggest the French are less eager to part with a tradition in which their presidents have kept quiet about their private lives and discretion about romantic matters has been the norm.
"The French reproach Nicolas Sarkozy for making his private life too visible - that he goes a bit too far," said Francois Miquet-Marty, head of political studies at polling group LH2 Opinion. "But people are able to separate his professional duties from his private life. It does not seem to affect their overall view about him."
Abroad, Sarkozy's relationship with Bruni, a one-time star of the catwalks who is now a singer, has drawn both criticism and confusion.
In India, which Sarkozy is reportedly expected to visit in coming weeks, recent news reports say diplomatic officials have been grappling with how to handle protocol if Bruni accompanies him.
Citing unidentified sources at India's Ministry of External Affairs, newspaper Indian Express reported that Bruni could not receive a reception on a par with that of a president's spouse.
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna declined to comment.
The relationship became public in mid-December when Sarkozy and Bruni visited a Paris area theme park together, with some photographers in tow.
After the pair turned up in Egypt on Christmas Day, three Egyptian lawmakers said in parliament that it was improper under Islamic law and traditions that the unmarried couple share a hotel room. Many Egyptians tuned in to coverage of the visit, and some commentators were critical.
On Saturday, Sarkozy was photographed in Petra, Jordan, alongside Bruni while holding a young boy whom the weekly newspaper identified as her son on his shoulders.
Sarkozy had been married to Cecilia for 11 years. Their marital problems became well known in May 2005 when she appeared in public at the side of event organizer Richard Attias.
A marriage to Bruni would be Sarkozy's third. He divorced his first wife, Marie, in the late 80s after he meeting and befriending Cecilia.
Bruni, an Italian-born French citizen, has dated famous men including Mick Jagger and Donald Trump.