Sarkozy to visit Taj, will Bruni be by his side?

( dpa ) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit the Taj Mahal during his India tour this weekend, leading the Indian media to speculate on Thursday whether his girlfriend Carla Bruni will be with him at one of the world's most romantic spots.

Sarkozy, who arrives in New Delhi on Friday on a two-day visit, will be chief guest at India's Republic Day parade on Saturday, after which he will leave for the Taj, according to the schedule announced by the Indian foreign office.

Sarkozy is scheduled to spend an hour at the 17th century monument, built by Mughal emperor Shahjehan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, before he rushes back to the Indian capital to take part in a tea hosted by his counterpart Pratibha Patil.

Although Bruni recently said she would not travel with the French leader to India because they were not married, Sarkozy's visit to the Taj fuelled speculation in the local media that she might accompany him, after all.

There has been no official word so far either from the French side or the Indian Foreign Ministry whether Bruni would travel with the 52-year-old Sarkozy.

The Indian Express daily reported there was a "likelihood" of Bruni joining Sarkozy when he goes to see the Taj, as the 40-year-old pop singer might reach India on a private visit on the night of January 25.

"Indian security agencies had expressed reservations about organizing a visit to Agra at such a short notice but the French insisted," the Express said in its report.

The report added that Bruni might decide to stay on for an international French film festival being held in the western city of Mumbai on January 27.

The relationship between Bruni and Sarkozy has provided problems of protocol for Indian authorities and has been a subject of feverish discussions between Paris and New Delhi.

The Times of India also talked about the speculation that Bruni might come on a private visit.

"Is he going alone? At a time when he's deeply in love and contemplating matrimony for the third time?" the newspaper asked.

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