Hollande ‘affair going on for two years’

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iol pic wld france politics -hollande -affair AFP A combination of pictures shows French actress Julie Gayet smiling as she arrives for a screening during the 65th Cannes film festival in Cannes on May 25, 2012, and France's President Francois Hollande smiling at the Elysee presidential palace on December 5, 2013 in Paris. Picture: VALERY HACHE and THOMAS SAMSON

Paris - The French gossip magazine that first reported on an alleged affair between President Francois Hollande and actress Julie Gayet published fresh claims about the pair on Friday.

In its latest edition, Closer tabloid claimed that the romance was “not as recent as some would like to make out. It is ... two years old!”

According to the tabloid, Hollande, 59 and Gayet, 41, were introduced to each other in 2011 by Hollande's former partner and mother of his children, fellow Socialist politician Segolene Royal.

Hollande left Royal in 2007 for First Lady Valerie Trierweiler, but he and Royal have remained on collegial terms.

The French presidency has refused to comment on the report, with a presidential aide reiterating Hollande's position that the subject is a private matter.

Friday's report said the actress - who is separated from the father of her two children - and Hollande “clicked immediately” and soon began an on-off affair.

The alleged romance waned during his campaign for president and first months in office in 2012, but took off again in mid-2013, according to Closer.

The magazine quoted a journalist from France Bleu public radio in Hollande's stronghold of Correze, Muriel Vite, as saying the couple were spotted at a local market last summer in the company of a film critic, while Trierweiler was on holidays in Greece with her children.

The latest revelations come as Trierweiler spent a seventh day in a Paris hospital, where she was admitted for depression last week following the initial revelations.

Her aides at the Elysee Palace said the 48-year-old First Lady was being treated for “shock” and extreme fatigue.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Hollande admitted he and Trierweiler were experiencing “painful moments” and vowed to clarify their relationship before a state visit to the United States on February 11.

He refused to comment on the initial Closer report itself, saying that private matters should be handled “in private.” - Sapa-dpa

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