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. EU to leave open possibility of Iran sanctions
BRUSSELS, Oct 12 (AFP) Oct 12, 2007
The European Union on Monday will leave open the possibility of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, following a demand by France and despite the objections of Germany and Italy.

According to a text set to be endorsed in Luxembourg by EU foreign ministers, and seen on Friday by AFP, "the EU will consider what additional measures it might take in order to support the UN process and the shared objectives of the international community ..."

A European diplomat, speaking on anonymity given the sensitive nature of the Iran dossier, said the text "leaves the door ajar" to the 27-nation bloc imposing sanctions on Iran beyond those of the United Nations.

With moves for heavier sanctions held up at the UN Security Council until November, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has urged his EU partners to take independent measures to pressure Iran to end its "nuclear defiance."

Portugal, which holds the EU's rotating presidency until the end of the year, has said it plans "to give Mr Kouchner a moment to present his initiative" at the Luxembourg meeting.

France has the backing of Britain, but not Germany and Italy who have important economic interests in Iran.

Germany, with permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, has led efforts to convince Iran to suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for political and economic incentives.

Western countries fear Iran could be trying to develop an atomic bomb behind the guise of a civilian nuclear programme -- a charge the Islamic republic rejects.

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