By Murray Williams

New ANC President Jacob Zuma held a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a Cape Town hotel on Friday morning.

Zuma arrived in a large gold Mercedes-Benz at 8.15am at the Westin Grand Hotel.

He was escorted to the 18th floor, where it was understood the two would meet in an executive club suite.

Security was tight at the entrance to the hotel and protocol staff from both sides said the meeting was private and was being held at the request of the French president "as a friend".

On his arrival, Zuma was welcomed by the hotel's general manager, Heinz Grub, and the French Ambassador to South Africa, Denis Pietton. Sarkozy, who arrived in South Africa on Thursday with his wife, model Carla Bruni, said earlier that he planned to meet Zuma during his official trip hosted by President Thabo Mbeki.

"Jacob Zuma is the president of the ANC. It is natural that I should meet him," he said.

After the meeting, Sarkozy and Mbeki were due to attend an Africa-France business forum hosted by the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry.