France's Kouchner to marry: close source

8th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

France's 70-year-old foreign minister, former humanitarian champion Bernard Kouchner, is to marry his long-term companion in Rome, a source close to the political veteran said Wednesday.

"He has that project," the source told AFP, when asked whether Kouchner plans to wed 66-year-old Christine Ockrent, who is his girlfriend of many years and a well-known journalist and broadcaster in her own right.

The source was speaking on condition of anonymity to reveal details of the minister's private life, and refused to reveal the date of the ceremony.

President Nicolas Sarkozy named Kouchner foreign minister in 2007, but before that he was best known as the outspoken founder of medical aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

He began his public career on the left, as a fellow traveller of the French Communist party, later served as a minister in several centre-left Socialist governments and now sits on Sarkozy's right-wing cabinet.

In 1999 he became the head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo, acting as the de facto governor of the breakaway Serbian province after NATO air strikes drove out Yugoslav forces accused of carrying out atrocities.

Throughout his political journey, and despite his prickly temperament, Kouchner has remained one of France's most popular figures, until recently regularly polling as one of voters' most admired politicians.

Now his star begun to slip, as former supporters have been surprised to see the man who began his public life campaigning for Vietnamese "Boat People" refugees serving a president who is deporting Roma Gypsies from France.

Ockrent is a veteran journalist and commentator in print, television and radio and now serves as the head France's state international broadcaster, which oversees RFI radio, and the TV5 Monde and France 24 TV networks.

© 2010 AFP

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