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First public appearance by Former French First Lady, says `don`t worry about me`

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 00:04

Mumbai: Shorn of her status as the first lady, Valerie Trierweiler, former partner of French President Francois Hollande, made her first public appearance here on Monday, saying she was feeling "happy" but remained largely evasive about her private life.
She appeared to briefly flare up when asked about her future and said, "Don`t worry about me."

Trierweiler, who went ahead with her India visit despite the weekend announcement of the separation by Hollande, said fight against hunger and malnutrition was a cause "close to my heart" and did not directly answer questions about the scandal.

"I have time, there are some years to come. I will see bit by bit. For now I am not foreseeing anything. In any case, don`t worry about me," Trierweiler, 48, told a reporter at a media conference for the launch of charity Fight Hunger Foundation.

"I don`t know if it`s for me to judge, or for you. I was there for 19 months," Trierweiler, a career journalist and Hollande`s companion of eight years, said about her time as the first lady in her brief public comments since the scandal broke out earlier this month following revelations of the President`s affair with actress Julie Gayet, 41.

A French magazine had published news and photos of Hollande visiting the actress for a secret tryst on a scooter.

A distraught Trierweiler was hospitalised for a week after the scandal became public and was later resting at a presidential retreat before embarking on her visit to India.

"I was able to discover people who I hadn`t known. I understood that you can be useful, and in being useful to others you can be useful to yourself," she said, speaking in French.

Though the couple started living together after Hollande`s split from Segolene Royal, a Socialist party presidential candidate in 2007 who was defeated by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, the couple never married.

Trierweiler assumed responsibilities of the first lady after Hollande`s election in 2012.

"This visit has been in my diary for the last six months and we have been planning it for the last year. I wouldn`t have missed it for the world," she said, putting up a brave face.
After a visit to the paediatric ward of a government-run hospital, Trierweiler said she found the sight "very moving" and promised to continue with her work for promoting French charity Action Against Hunger, the organisers of her India trip.

"It`s an injustice because even if everything is done for the best, they don`t have the same resources as in our hospitals," Trierweiler, herself a mother of three, said after she saw some prematurely-born babies.

"I have three children and they never faced such hardships. In France, there are poor children but there is no malnurishment. On a visit to Africa, I had experienced acute malnourishment among children," she recalled.

She said this was her third visit to India. "The first time I came as a journalist, second as the first lady of France and now on a charity mission for welfare of children," she said.

The twice-married former French first lady had visited India in February last year with Hollande.

She is slated to attend a gala dinner later tonight in conjunction with Action Against Hunger.

According to an agency report quoting a member of her entourage, she is still "on good terms with the President" with whom she had lunched on Thursday to finalise the break up. She is being accompanied by a presidential bodyguard and was received by French Ambassador Francois Richier at the airport.

Another report attributed to Trierweiler`s chief of staff Patrice Biancone said her office as the first lady would cease to exist from Wednesday.

First Published: Monday, January 27, 2014 - 15:04
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