PARIS - Was it a love letter, and if so, who was it addressed to?
That was the question being asked in France on Friday after French President Nicolas Sarkozy was photographed leaving a cabinet meeting clutching a hand-written note to his side.
A blow-up of the letter showed what appeared to be a woman's handwriting and a note in which she expressed regret over their prolonged separation.
"I have the feeling that I haven't seen you for an eternity and I miss you .... a million kisses," said the letter.
The picture was snapped on Sept. 12 as Sarkozy left his office in the Elysee palace, but only came to the public eye on Thursday when it appeared on news magazine's website.
On Friday, Le Parisien daily said the letter was actually addressed to Sarkozy's wife, Cecilia, and was not a love letter at all, but had been written by one of her oldest friends -- Isabelle Balkany, the wife of a conservative politician.
Balkany confirmed the news on TV chat shows on Friday and accused the French press of making much ado about nothing.
However, some doubts remained.
Some sceptics pointed out that one phrase suggested the letter had indeed been written to a man because a verb ending did not have a feminine form. Others asked why Sarkozy would be holding a personal letter addressed to his wife.
"Why did the head of state have it with him, I don't know," presidential spokesman David Martinon told Le Parisien.
And some critics accused the president of trying to hush up the story after websites said French magazine Choc pulled a two page report on the letter following the intervention of its owner Arnaud Lagardere -- a wealthy friend of Sarkozy.
The magazine said it prepared and then dumped numerous stories ahead of publication and denied coming under any political pressure over the piece.