French far right leader Le Pen is seen on visit to Trump Tower
FRENCH National Front leader Marine Le Pen has been spotted at Trump Tower during a surprise visit to New York.
The French politician was spotted having coffee with aides inside President-elect Donald Trump’s eponymous skyscraper before being whisked upstairs in a lift.
It was unclear who she was meeting, but incoming press secretary Sean Spicer said she was not scheduled to meet the President-elect or anyone on his team. “No meetings with anyone,” transition spokesman Sean Spicer said. “It’s a public building.”
The visit comes just months before France’s next presidential election.
Ms Le Pen who has described Mr Trump’s victory as a sign of hope for her own campaign was seen entering an elevator at the building.
She was with three men, Louis Aliot, her partner and vice president of National Front; Ludovic De Danne, her international affairs adviser; and Italian businessman George Lombardi, a Trump friend who lives in Trump Tower.
Ms Le Pen, who is in a run-off with conservative former prime minister Francois Fillon in next May’s election, has struggled to raise money for her campaign. She is expected to earn enough votes in the first round of presidential voting in April to enter a second round election set for May 7.
Her staff confirmed her multiple-day visit to New York, characterising it as a private trip.
“She took two days to have a break,” campaign director David Rachline said.
Le Pen has sought to boost her credentials with foreign appearances. Her staff in April announced that she would go to Britain to campaign for that country’s exit from the European Union but she ended up not going after being shunned by the Brexit campaign.
Trump Tower has been the site of a series of meetings between Trump, a Republican, and business and political leaders as he assembles his administration ahead of his inauguration on Friday next week. It has also become a tourist destination since Trump’s surprise November election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The group Human Rights Watch mentioned both Mr Trump and Ms Le Pen in a report warning that the rise of populist leaders threatens global human rights. It cited Mr Trump’s victory as well as Britain’s move to leave the European Union, which was led by Nigel Farage.
MARINE LE PEN: Stuggling to raise campaign funds.