French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said he was a guest of the Egyptian government during the New Year’s holiday, making the disclosure as Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie fends off calls to resign for accepting a flight from a Tunisian businessman.
Fillon said in a statement today that he and his family were hosted by the Egyptian government during a stay from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2 in the Nile resort of Aswan. His family was treated to a Nile boat ride and a flight on a government plane to see the temples at Abu Simbel, the statement said.
Fillon said he paid personally for his family’s flight to Aswan on a French government plane. The statement didn’t specify the amount.
During his stay in Aswan, Fillon met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has since been forced by two weeks of public protests to announce that he won’t be seeking another term.
The Socialist Party has repeatedly called for Alliot-Marie to resign after she admitted that during her winter holidays she accepted two rides in a jet owned by a supporter of then-Tunisian president Zine al Abidine Ben Ali.
The deadly riots that forced Ben Ali from office were already under way when Alliot-Marie visited Tunisia. The riots in Egypt began after Fillon’s trip.
Alliot-Marie said today during parliamentary debate that she won’t be stepping down and apologized for her “clumsiness” in accepting the flights from businessman Aziz Miled.