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French FM admits mistake in borrowing Tunisian jet

media Michèle Alliot-Marie AFP / Miguel Medina

French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie acknowledged on Monday that she had made a mistake in borrowing the private jet of an associate of ousted Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

"When you’re a minister, you are a minister 24 hours a day and 365 days a year”, she told French radio station Europe 1. She had said told another station on Saturday that when she is on holiday she is not foreign minister.

“With the schedule that we have, from time to time we need to relax, to spend time with friends and family and then we forget that we are representatives of France,” she said on Monday. “That is a mistake. I see that now.”

Alliot-Marie has faced criticism in France and Tunisia for the last week after it emerged that she had borrowed a plane from Tunisian businessman Aziz Miled during Christmas holidays in Tunisia. Miled was a friend of the brother-in-law of Ben Ali.

But Socialist Party spokesman Benoît Hamon said on Monday that “the only solution that would allow Alliot-Marie to recover a little dignity and this government to recover a little credibility in the eyes of the French, is that she resign”.

It would show that the government does not take the French for fools, he added.

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