Sarkozy circus day two: President and his wife split up as politics tops agenda

Last updated at 12:24 27 March 2008

Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown will be hoping to restore politics to the forefront of France's state visit today by tackling nuclear power, the financial crisis and defence.

Pomp, ceremony and fashion critique was the order of the day yesterday after the French President touched down in the UK with his glamorous new wife, Carla Bruni.

There was more talk about the former model's four different outfits and youthful looks than Mr Sarkozy's address to the Houses of Parliament in which he called for a new, Anglo-French “brotherhood”.

But the serious business will begin – and end – today when Mr Sarkozy and Mr Brown head to Arsenal's Emirates stadium for a lengthy summit.

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Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni received a warm welcome from the Browns at Number 10

They are expected to seal an agreement on co-operation in the development of a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK.

The global economic crisis, defence co-operation and reform of international institutions will also be discussed during the bi-lateral talks.

Mr Sarkozy made clear in his address to Parliament yesterday that Franco-British relations are once again “cordiale” after the icy stand-off which evolved under his predecessor Jacques Chirac.

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Gordon gave Carla a big kiss on the cheek as she arrived in Downing Street

The President will now use today to push that message forward into actual policy agreements, as he attempts to rejuvenate his image as a serious statesman.

His standing in France has taken a huge battering thanks to his whirlwind romance and marriage to Ms Bruni and his “flashy” lifestyle.

The new Mrs Sarkozy will take a back seat today, separating from her husband for the first time as he goes for talks with the Prime Minister.

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The French President and his wife look at ease as they leave Windsor Castle

She and the President were initially invited to stay for two nights at Windsor Castle but decided to head home tonight, cutting their visit to just 36-hours.

They bade farewell to the Queen and Prince Philip this morning before taking the short car ride to Downing Street.

Carla was looking more casual, but still demure, in yet another grey outfit.

This time it was a trouser suit, teamed again with flat black shoes and a thin black belt.

She did however add a splash of colour with her coat - fittingly a very royal bright purple.

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Carla takes the lead as they head for the short car journey to Number 10

The couple stopped off en route to Westminster to lay a wreath at the statue of General Charles de Gaulle in Pall Mall and observe a one minute silence in his memory.

After looking at a plaque paying tribute to the former presidnets' appeal to the French people to fight against the Nazi occupation during the Second World War, they met some French schoolchildren and veterans from France and Britain.

Mr Brown and his wife were both on the steps of Number 10 to give the couple a warm welcome by the time they arrived in Downing Street.

The Prime Minister, who is normally very formal, gave Mrs Sarkozy a big kiss on the cheek and stood close by her side as they posed for pictures on the steps.

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Mr and Mrs Sarkozy were invited to stay two nights at Windsor Castle but opted to head home immediately tonight instead, cutting their visit to just 36 hours

She and Mrs Brown will later lunch together and call for action to save the lives of half a million women who die during pregnancy or childbirth around the world each year.

The lunch is being held in support of the White Ribbon Alliance charity, which seeks to tackle maternal mortality.

Later today, Mr Sarkozy will present Dame Ellen MacArthur with the Legion d'Honneur.

The record-breaking yachtswoman, who is regarded as a hero in France, will be receive the honour at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

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