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Sarko and Carlo show their love

THIS is the romantic hand-in-hand stroll that shows that French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni are still very much in love.

Amid blogger reports of strains in their marriage, Mr Sarkozy and the ex-supermodel made every effort to appear the happy couple, walking closely together and clasping hands as they mounted a staircase into an auditorium packed with students, staff and other spectators at Columbia University in New York.

The French first lady, elegant in a swept-up chignon and form-fitting black top with grey skirt, at times threatened to upstage her husband, who scolded his American hosts about health care and for not paying enough attention to the rest of the world.

French websites immediately picked up on the message.

"Carla Bruni et Nicolas Sarkozy amoureux a New York" read a headline on the online site of entertainment magazine Voici.

Mr Sarkozy is in hot water at home, with poll ratings at record lows of around 30pc and widening cracks in his UMP party.