Ex-South Carolina governor to marry former mistress

CHARLESTON, South Carolina Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:50am EDT

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford pauses as he addresses the media at a news conference at the State House in Columbia, South Carolina September 10, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Drake

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford pauses as he addresses the media at a news conference at the State House in Columbia, South Carolina September 10, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Drake

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CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford said on Sunday he is engaged to marry his Argentine girlfriend, Maria Belen Chapur.

"Yes, it's true and I stand by my statement," Sanford told Reuters by telephone.

He referred to a statement given to CNN in which he said, "Yes, we are engaged, and I'm both happy and excited for what that means. I have long expressed my feelings for her, she's a wonderful person. My closest friends have met and love her, and I look forward to introducing her to still many more that have yet to do so."

In the summer of 2009, then-Governor Sanford disappeared from his office for a week on a trip to Argentina to visit Chapur. Aides said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. When Sanford returned, he gave a tearful, State House press conference admitting he had been unfaithful to his wife and calling Chapur his "soul mate."

He served out the rest of his term until January 2011.

Sanford and his wife, Jenny Sanford, were divorced in 2010.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Editing by Daniel Trotta)

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