French president admits 'painful' personal momentTuesday 14 January 2014 23.05
French President Francois Hollande has told a press conference that personal affairs must be dealt with in private.
During an event to set out a revised economic policy to boost the country's flagging economy, Mr Hollande was asked about continuing allegations that he has been having an affair with a 41-year-old actress.
"Everyone in their personal life can face trials. That's our case. These are painful moments," he said.
"I have one principle, and that is that personal life should be treated privately, respecting each person's intimacy," Mr Hollande told reporters.
He said it was not the time or place to address the allegations and he would answer questions on the status of his partner, Valerie Trierweiler before a visit to Washington next month.
Ms Trierweiler was hospitalised shortly after news of the alleged affair broke, and will remain in hospital for a number of days.
Mr Hollande said his long-term partner was "resting".
The timing for the French president could not be worse. His aides had hoped his traditional New Year's news conference would set out a plan to reboot the French economy, and with it his own personal ratings, which have been at rock bottom.
Instead the initiative has been eclipsed by a scandal that France's normally strict privacy laws are struggling to contain.
The political establishment has largely supported President Hollande, and public opinion appears as yet unflustered.
Outlining his new economic vision Mr Hollande said he would cut public spending by €50bn in 2015-17, equivalent to a 4% reduction in outlays by national and local authorities.
"In 2014, this year, we will save €15bn," Mr Hollande said.