Carla no show at Taj - the visit that never was

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Agra, Jan 26 (UNI) The romance of the Taj failed to woo former Italian supermodel Carla Bruni who did not keep her ''much-hyped date'' with French President Nicolas Sarkozy as he posed alone in front of the monument of love.

However, the 52-year-old French President promised to see the ''very beautiful'' and ''unforgettable'' white marbled 17th century monument once again ''soon''.

As Mr Sarkozy arrived here all alone this afternoon, all the media frenzy about Ms Bruni accompanying him to the Taj came to a naught.

Mr Sarkozy arrived at the Shilpagram, about a km from the Taj Mahal, in a huge cavalcade exactly at 1400 hrs and was inside the premises for about 45 minutes.

The French President and his huge entourage of officials, businessmen and media were taken to the Taj in special battery-operated buses in view of the ban on plying of petrol and diesel-run vehicles in the vicinity of the monument.

As Mr Sarkozy entered the Taj, he exclaimed ''Wow-Very beautiful'' in French. A French journalist later translated the words in English for a select group of Indian mediapersons who were allowed inside the Taj.

He jotted down remarks, also in the French language, about the monument in the visitor's book. ''Unforgettable and see you soon,'' was what the French President wrote in the book, in an apparent hint that he could return again with Ms Bruni.

Mr Sarkozy posed before the shutterbugs in front of the Taj and as he saw some curious photojournalists scrambling for the exclusive pictures, he pulled a woman member of the French delegation to his side and got clicked along with her.

The French President, who was the chief guest at this year Republic Day parade, left the Taj for the national capital at 1500 hrs to attend President Pratibha Patil's ''At Home'' reception in the Rashtrapati Bhavan lawns at around 1545 hrs.

Mr Sarkozy had arrived in New Delhi on a two-day state visit yesterday with a high level ministerial and business delegation but without his 40-year-old girlfriend.

The media had got into an overdrive since the last week with rumours running riots about Ms Bruni's expected visit to India along with Mr Sarkozy.

The relationship between the French President and the glamorous model-turned-singer had ruffled the feathers of bureaucracy in some countries with ''protocol'' becoming a major issue.

A section of the Indian media today reported that Ms Bruni had arrived in New Delhi last night and would head for the Taj Mahal on Saturday afternoon on a ''private'' visit.

However, Ms Bruni had earlier herself told a French newspaper, Liberation, last week that she would not be accompanying Mr Sarkozy on the official India visit, as they were not yet married.

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