MEXICO CITY: A Frenchwoman and her ex-husband, a former Mexican governor close to his country’s president, have resolved a high-profile, three-year-old child custody battle that threatened to turn into a diplomatic headache.
Maude Versini told AFP on Sunday that she and her husband signed an agreement allowing her to take her three children to France for seven weeks every year.
In return, Versini agreed to drop her legal actions against Arturo Montiel, a former governor of the central State of Mexico, who has had their three children in Mexico since January 2012.
“We signed this agreement last night [Saturday] in which I gave up way too much for my taste, but I didn’t have much of a choice,” she told AFP at Mexico City’s airport.
“It’s a first step and it’s important for me to be able to rebuild a relation with my children that has been very damaged,” Versini said.
She was heading back to Paris after spending Easter in the State of Mexico with her children, 11-year-old twins Adrian and Sofia and 9-year-old Alexi.
Versini, 41, and Montiel married in 2002, but divorced five years later.
A Mexican court initially gave her custody of the children, but Montiel kept them in Mexico when they travelled here in 2012.
Montiel, 71, is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and political mentor to President Enrique Pena Nieto. He ran unsuccessfully for president himself in the past.
In May 2014, French authorities issued an international arrest warrant against Montiel. In March, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urged Mexico to implement measures to allow Versini to see her children without restrictions.
Versini, who had asked the commission to intervene, saw her children in December for the first time in three years, at a judicial centre in the central Mexican city of Toluca.
During French President Francois Hollande’s visit to Mexico last year he discussed the custody dispute with Pena Nieto.
Relations between Mexico and France were strained under the presidencies of Felipe Calderon and Nicolas Sarkozy after French woman Florence Cassez was arrested on kidnapping charges in 2005.
But Hollande and Pena Nieto mended ties after she was released in 2013 by the Supreme Court, which ruled that her arrest was rife with irregularities.
Pena Nieto is expected to be a special guest at France’s July 14 Bastille Day celebration.