Japan’s top government spokesman said on Wednesday the country would be disappointed that Carla Bruni, former model and wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, would not be visiting for a wealthy nations’ summit next week.
Japan is set to welcome the leaders of the Group of Eight nations, as well as other world leaders, to discuss climate change and world economic problems at a luxury resort on the northern island of Hokkaido.
Traditionally, the leaders are accompanied by their spouses, who attend a separate programme during the annual summits. But the French government contacted Tokyo to say that the first lady was unable to make the trip, chief cabinet secretary Nobutaka Machimura said.
“She’s a very popular first lady and I’m sure everyone will feel disappointed,” he said, but added that he did not see her absence as disrespectful towards Japan.
Bruni caused a sensation when she visited Britain with her husband in March and was dubbed “the new Princess Diana” by tabloid newspapers.
The spouses of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi will also be skipping the summit, Machimura said.
Last year, Sarkozy’s previous wife, Cecilia, set tongues wagging when she left the summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, after barely 24 hours, saying she wanted to attend her daughter’s birthday party. The couple divorced later in the year and Sarkozy married singer Bruni in February this year.