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Valerie Trierweiler, the partner of French President Francois Hollande, said Thursday she wants to become a children's champion as she looks to forge a role for herself as France's first lady.
As Hollande held talks with senior government officials on the first day of his state visit to India, Trierweiler headed to a French-run children's home in the capital New Delhi where she met orphans and care workers.
After being given an impromptu demonstration of some of the children's musical skills, Trierweiler took some of the youngsters on her lap for a cuddle and presented them with new instruments.
Asked by one of the youngsters, 10-year-old Kishan Chand, how she managed to become a first lady, the 47-year-old jokingly replied: "I studied but there are no studies for becoming a first lady. I am trying to do my best."
Despite not being married, India is treating her as if she were the president's spouse, effectively according her all the trappings of a first lady.
Speaking to AFP during her visit, the former journalist said she was embracing the opportunity to meet children from all parts of the globe.
"I want to focus on children's rights and promote education," she said.
"Today, I have seen a beautiful side of Indo-French partnership. If we can help some poor children, then we can make a difference."
Trierweiler, a twice-divorced mother of three, has previously admitted that she "stumbled a bit" in the first few months as first lady after Hollande was elected president last June.
Her exact status on previous official visits has been a source of some contention and she was left seething during a visit to Washington for a G8 summit last year by questions from some US journalists.
"They kept asking if I was actually allowed to be there. What kind of era are we living in?" she told French newspapers on her return.