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**** wife photos stir up Sarkozy UK visit

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Monique Faulkner
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« on: March 26, 2008, 11:06:27 am »

**** wife photos stir up Sarkozy UK visit

Story Highlights
NEW: French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives in UK for two-day state visit

AP: Visit day after reported that auction house to sell **** pictures of his new wife

Sarkozy says in BBC interview he wants a closer relationship with the UK

Afghanistan, credit crunch, immigration, nuclear power expected to dominate talks
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- French president Nicolas Sarkozy has started his first official visit to the UK -- the day after it was reported that an auction house is to sell **** pictures of his new wife.

Auction house Christie's is to sell this photograph of French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in April.

1 of 3 Sarkozy and his wife, the former supermodel Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, were greeted by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall after the presidential plane landed at London's Heathrow airport Wednesday morning.

The French couple then traveled to Windsor, outside London, where they were greeted by Queen Elizabeth and and the Duke of Edinburgh before being taken to the castle in a state carriage procession.

The French president will enjoy a full state banquet at Windsor Castle Wednesday night, where he will stay as the guest of the queen. On Wednesday afternoon Sarkozy will address both Houses of Parliament in French.

But his wife Bruni-Sarkozy is likely to attract as much, if not more, attention than her husband during the two-day visit, during which she is expected to meet the UK royals and attend a lunch held in her honor by Sarah Brown, wife of the UK prime minister.

Auction house Christie's is to sell photographs of former model Bruni-Sarkozy, taken by Michel Comte in 1993, in New York next month, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. The agency quoted the French president's office as saying the sale is a private matter.

The UK media has covered the president's courtship of Bruni-Sarkozy and subsequent marriage in depth, with several using her visit as reason to reprint images from her modeling career.

Many observers in France see the presidential trip as a bid by Sarkozy to regain some of the popularity that saw him elected last May.

Since then he has provoked controversy at home with his high-profile divorce from former wife Cecilia in October, followed by his relationship and marriage to Bruni-Sarkozy, a singer and former model. On the political front he has drawn flak through his attempts to shake up French pension and labor laws.  Watch why Sarkozy is slipping in approval ratings at home. »

Transport workers staged a week and a half of strikes in November to protest Sarkozy's plan to end special retirement privileges for train drivers and other state employees.

On Tuesday Sarkozy hinted that he might boycott the opening ceremony on the Beijing Olympics this summer, agencies reported, following pressure at home to take a tough line on the Chinese crackdown in Tibet.

Closer co-operation on Afghanistan, the credit crunch, immigration and nuclear power are all expected to dominate talks between Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

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Web site:  Christie's
In an interview with BBC Radio ahead of the visit, Sarkozy said that the UK and France needed to shift from "being cordial to being friendly", the UK's Press Association reported, adding that he wanted the relationship to be "fleshed out by concrete projects on the economy, immigration, security, defense."

"It has been long enough now that we have not been at war, that we are not wrangling," Sarkozy is reported to have said.

On Thursday Sarkozy is expected to have talks with UK prime minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street, followed by a UK-France summit at the Emirates Stadium, home to Arsenal Football Club, which boasts a French manager and high percentage of French playing staff.

He will then present record-breaking yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur with top French award the Legion d'Honneur at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2008, 12:36:49 am »

Gig-guh-ty !!!
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