French PM Acknowledges Gifts From Egyptian Govt

PARIS (AP) - France's prime minister acknowledged Tuesday that the Egyptian government offered his family free lodging, a plane flight and an outing on the Nile during a Christmas vacation in Egypt.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who was clearly trying to head off criticism about the holiday perks, said in a statement that he wanted to disclose the information about his Dec. 26-Jan. 2 holiday "out of concern for transparency."

Fillon's statement came after French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie faced probing questions about her 2010 year-end vacation in Tunisia, where she traveled amid popular protests that eventually toppled the country's dictatorial regime last month. The wave of popular rebellion that started in Tunisia has spread to Egypt and other countries in the region.

Alliot-Marie accepted a ride in a private plane owned by a Tunisian businessman, and she has been questioned repeatedly about how close he was to the fallen regime. Alliot-Marie has said her friend was one of the regime's victims, not a supporter.

The prime minister's statement said Egyptian authorities provided his vacation housing. He also took an Egyptian government plane for a domestic flight and was treated to a boat ride on the Nile.

During the trip, Fillon met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has faced two weeks of massive street protests by demonstrators calling for his ouster after nearly 30 years in power.

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