Paris (Agencies): The Prime Minister of France admitted that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak lent him and his family a plane during a New Year's holiday in Egypt.

The revelation came as France's Foreign Minister battled calls for her resignation for visiting Egypt during a New Year's holiday in a private plane owned by a businessman allegedly close to relatives of Tunisia's ousted dictator.

The office of Prime Minister Francois Fillon quickly issued a statement after the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine broke the story about his trip.

The statement stated the Prime Minister at the invitation of the Egyptian authorities had used a plane from the Egyptian government fleet to travel from Aswan to Abu Simbel. Fillon met Mubarak in the southern city of Aswan on December 30.

"He (Fillon) also embarked on a boat trip on the Nile in the same conditions," meaning also at the cost of the Egyptian authorities, it said.

Fillon and his family were "lodged by the Egyptian authorities" during their tour to Egypt, which lasted from December 26 until January 2, it said.

It informed that the Prime Minister was making this information public "in the interests of transparency."

Fillon has in recent days repeatedly supported his Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie as she faced calls to step down over her alleged links with the ousted Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

During a holiday in Tunisia in late December, she took two tours in a plane owned by a prominent traders,who critics said was close to the government, when the uprising that eventually deposed Ben Ali was already under way.

The protest over Alliot-Marie came at a fragile time, after France was blamed of being slow to react to the Tunisian uprising and of indulging Ben Ali's authoritarian regime.

France had warm relations with Ben Ali during his 23 years in power but just after he was driven out, President Nicolas Sarkozy supported the protest movement and denied him refuge in France.

Last month, when rights groups were reporting that Tunisia's hated police had shot dead dozens of unarmed demonstrators, Alliot-Marie caused an outcry by advising France could help train the force.

Sarkozy last week added his voice to calls for immediate political changeover in Egypt as anxiety increased on Mubarak to resign amid mass protests.

The 82-year-old strongman, Mubarak, has said he will remain until September but not run in that month's presidential election.

Sarkozy's call echoed that of US President Barack Obama, who has told the Egyptian President that an orderly transition needed to start immediately.