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Hollande splits from first lady

French president Francois Hollande has split with the country's first lady two weeks after a tabloid reported that the leader was having an affair with an actress.

A presidential aide confirmed that Mr Hollande has ended his seven-year relationship with Valerie Trierweiler.

The break-up was first reported by French news agency Agence France Presse, which said that Mr Hollande told it in a telephone conversation this evening that "I make it known that I have put an end" to the relationship with Ms Trierweiler.

Mr Hollande, who has four children with former presidential candidate Segolene Royal, told the news agency that he was speaking in a personal capacity and not as head of state.

He and Ms Trierweiler have lived together since 2007, and while they are unmarried, Ms Trierweiler occupied the so-called madame wing of the presidential palace, travelled abroad with Mr Hollande and functioned as the first lady.

Mr Hollande had dodged questions about Ms Trierweiler's status since a January 14 news conference at which he refused to say whether the 48-year-old journalist was still the first lady.

Those questions surged to the front pages of the world's newspapers after French tabloid Closer reported, with photographs backing it up, that 59-year-old Mr Hollande was having an affair with Julie Gayet, a 41-year-old actress.

That caused Ms Trierweiler to check into a hospital for a week-long stay after the tabloid's report about the affair, during which suspense continued to build over the next twist in the love triangle.

Mr Hollande promised at his news conference to clear up confusion over the identity of his first lady before a scheduled February 11 state visit to the US.

AP

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