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. France will remain open to Iran dialogue: Sarkozy
WASHINGTON, Nov 6 (AFP) Nov 06, 2007
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that the idea of an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon was unacceptable to France, but stressed Paris would remain open to dialogue.

"The hypothesis that a nuclear weapon could find its way into the hands of the current leaders of Iran is unacceptable for France," Sarkozy told business leaders on the first day of a visit here.

"But at the same time, I would say just as strongly that access to civilian nuclear energy is a right, including for Iran."

Sarkozy arrived earlier in Washington on his first official visit since being elected in May, and was due to be the guest of honor at a White House dinner later Tuesday.

Washington has led moves to impose more sanctions on Iran for its failure to rein in its suspect nuclear program, which Western nations believe could be a bid to obtain atomic weapons.

"There is no other solution than UN and European sanctions, and at the same time we have to remain open to dialogue," Sarkozy told the French-American Business Council.

He stressed he would be in favor of dialogue "right up to the last minute," adding that: "We have to end the Iranian crisis, by showing Iranian leaders that the current situation is a dead end."

US leaders are rolling out the red carpet for Sarkozy, marking an end to the tense relations which were triggered by the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Sarkozy will hold a summit with US President George W. Bush on Wednesday, at which several topics including Iran and the war in Iraq are likely to be broached.

The French leader said of Iraq that: "No one is saying that there should be an immediate, unconditional withdrawal. What we want is that as soon as possible, the Iraqi people can decide their future and secure their unity."

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