Birth of daughter a `profound joy`: Sarkozy

Carla Bruni has reportedly given birth to a baby girl — the first infant born to a sitting president in modern-day France.

Paris: French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy gave birth to a baby girl on Wednesday night — the first infant born to a sitting president of modern-day France, the French media reported.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, finishing up a meeting in Frankfurt on the euro debt crisis, was absent when the couple`s first child was born shortly before 8 pm (1800 GMT), according to BFM TV. He reportedly arrived at the small, private Muette Clinic at about 11 pm (0900 GMT) — his third trip on Wednesday to the facility.

However, Sarkozy has been quoted by BBC as describing the birth of his daughter as a "profound joy" but a "private" one.

Europe 1 radio said the birth "went well" for the 43-year-old mother, a singer and former supermodel. She entered the medical facility in western Paris in the morning accompanied by Sarkozy, according to the reports.

There was no official confirmation of the birth. The presidential entourage reiterated earlier Wednesday that no birth announcement would be forthcoming.

The couple had been coy about the impending birth from the start, with measured doses of information.

"It`s obviously a happy event," Nadine Morano, a junior minister and friend of the President, told BFM, clearly reacting to the news reports. Sarkozy was "very attentive, full of attention toward Carlo" when he spoke with her by phone on Tuesday during a flight with the minister to Nice, she said.

The couple married in February 2008, less than a year after Sarkozy took office and less than four months after his divorce from second wife Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz.

The Italian-born first lady has a 10-year-old son from a previous relationship and the President has three sons from his two previous marriages — and is a grandfather since January.

Sarkozy was seen entering the medical clinic in late afternoon, then leaving about 30 minutes later — before rushing off to Frankfurt for a meeting on the euro debt crisis ahead of a European summit on Sunday. With a scheduled visit on Thursday morning to Normandy, Sarkozy was taking a gamble. It was not immediately clear whether he would cancel his visit to Normandy.

The birth ended sometimes breathless speculation about Bruni-Sarkozy`s due date. Photographers staked out the clinic since early October, with a security detail limiting their access.

Bruni-Sarkozy has said that she was staying mum about the event because she`s superstitious. The couple also decided not to find out the baby`s sex in advance.

"You don`t have a child for the gallery," Bruni-Sarkozy told French TV network TF1 earlier this month. "I will do everything to protect this child ... I will not show photos of this child, I will never expose this child."

While a newborn surely offers new personal horizons for the presidential couple, the question is whether a baby will bolster the sympathy quotient for the perpetually unpopular Sarkozy, especially if the infant remains in the shadows.

Sarkozy is expected to seek a second mandate in Presidential Elections six months away. However, recent polls put his chief rival, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, in the lead.

Bureau Report

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