Sarkozy with his girlfriend Carla Bruni at Luxor on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Luxor (Egypt), Dec. 25 (AP): Sporting dark sunglasses and holding hands, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his supermodel-turned-singer girlfriend Carla Bruni, arrived in Luxor today, kicking off a private visit to Egypt.
As the couple touched down in Luxor, heavy security prevented the media from approaching Sarkozys entourage. Sameer Farag, head of Luxors Supreme Local Council of antiquities, greeted them on landing.
The couple were promptly whisked off in a convoy of Egyptian presidential security cars to Luxors famed Old Winter Palace hotel on the Niles east bank.
The two, wearing dark casual clothes in balmy Egyptian winter weather, turned to wave to a crowd of onlookers and media as they walked up to the hotel, appearing relaxed and at ease with the media attention.
Security was also stepped up around the hotel and at the three archaeological sites Sarkozy and Bruni were to visit later the Luxor Temple, the citys museum and the Karnak Temple.
In Paris, France-2 television reported that Bruni and Sarkozy would stay for three days at the Winter Palace. The TV also said Luxor police was cracking down on photographers outside the hotel and that a camera crew spent a night in jail for filming the hotels facade.
The French embassy in Cairo declined to reveal any details of Sarkozys trip, saying only that the visit was a private one. An official visit of the French leader would start next Monday, when Sarkozy and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are to hold talks, the embassy said.
French media have also reported that Sarkozy and Bruni would travel to Sharm el-Sheikh on Thursday with their entourage which reportedly includes Sarkozys mother Andree and one of his sons. They would stay there in a villa owned by Abu Dhabi sheikh.
Sarkozys mother and son were not spotted in Luxor by the reporters and photographers cramming for a snap of the President and Bruni.
They first surfaced as a couple earlier this month in French media on a visit to Disneyland Paris and two months after the French Presidents divorce from his wife of 11 years, Cecilia.
The Italian-born French citizen, Bruni, 39, who has been a model for a considerable stretch of time, won critical and public acclaim for her first folk album in 2003, singing in a raspy, whispery voice.
She has dated a range of famous men, including Mick Jagger and Donald Trump, and has also been linked to singer Eric Clapton and actor Vincent Perez, sources said.
Sarkozy, 52, often put his private and family life on display for the media but bristled at the interest in his tempestuous relationship with Cecilia, his second marriage.