French president's White House trip still on despite reported affair

Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:13pm EST
 
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande's state visit to the United States is still on schedule despite the reported problems that have erupted in Hollande's personal life.

Hollande is scheduled to have talks with President Barack Obama and attend a state dinner on February 11. White House spokesman Jay Carney referred questions to the French government as to who Hollande would bring with him.

"We look forward to hosting the president of France here in February," said Carney. "This is our longest and most enduring alliance."

The White House statement announcing the state visit last November 22 said the invitation was extended to Hollande and the French first lady, Valerie Trierweiler.

She is currently in a French hospital recovering from shock after a celebrity magazine published pictures of what it said was Hollande wearing a motorcycle helmet visiting actress Julie Gayet for nocturnal trysts.

On Tuesday at a New Year's press conference in Paris, Hollande brushed away questions about the alleged affair as he unveiled moves to ease company taxes, cut labor charges and trim public spending to revive a stagnant economy.

"These are painful moments ... This is neither the place nor the time to (discuss) that," Hollande said, adding he would clarify the issue before the Washington trip.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton; Editing by James Dalgleish)