BERLIN - French President Francois Hollande and his longtime partner are splitting up, putting an end to speculation over who would accompany him to the White House in February.
Hollande, who has kept the French public guessing for weeks since an affair with an actress was made public by a local tabloid, confirmed a report in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that appeared Saturday that he has ended his seven-year relationship with journalist Valerie Trierweiler.
The newspaper wrote that the couple "had set the terms of the separation Thursday."
"I am confirming that our common life is over," he told Agence France Press news agency Saturday evening in a telephone interview.
The confirmation was an about-face for Hollande, whose office blasted the "false" reports circulating in French media earlier Saturday, saying the Elysee Palace would make a statement clarifying the relationship before his Feb. 11 trip to meet the Obamas at the White House.
France had been abuzz with speculation over the fate of the couple since revelations unearthed by Closer magazine, a French tabloid, which published pictures two weeks ago showing Hollande on nocturnal trysts with French actress Julie Gayet, with whom he has been having an affair since the 2012 presidential race that propelled him into power.
Since those revelations, Trierweiler checked herself into a hospital before moving to a weekend residence of the president, La Lanterne, on the outskirts of Paris.
Hollande, meanwhile, admitted to difficulties in his relationship with his partner, whom he met while he was with former French presidential candidate, Segolene Royal. He has four children with Royal.
He has never been married and French media have dubbed him "the serial bachelor."
Earlier this week, Trierweiler's attorney told the French press she wanted to end her relationship with the president "with dignity."
Even so, Trierweiler is continuing her first lady duties, planning to leave Sunday for India to boost the French charity, Action Against Hunger.
A member of her team told the French daily Le Parisien that Trierweiler "accepts the breakup as a done deal."
Meanwhile, Hollande, who is the most unpopular president in France's modern history, has brought even more scorn upon himself because of the scandal.
"His image as a statesman is already tarnished, and as low as his ratings are, it is hard to believe they can sink lower," said Eleonore Le Gallo, 40, of Paris. "This (scandal) simply shows another side of his personality - it gives him the image as a president who doesn't care, who worries only about his personal life. If you have a job like his, which is to take care of the entire country, I think one should be better employed than to be just fooling around."
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