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. Sarkozy says pressure on Iran should be increased
RIYADH, Jan 13 (AFP) Jan 13, 2008
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he wants international pressure stepped up on Iran over its refusal to halt its contested nuclear programme, in an interview published Sunday.

"Iran is persistent in not respecting its international obligations, we want to continue to increase international pressure within the (UN) Security Council and European Union, until the country fulfills all its international obligations, that is to say it suspends sensitive activities and implements supplementary guarantees sought by the IAEA," Sarkozy was quoted as saying in the Al Hayat daily.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei met with Iranian leaders in Tehran on Saturday aimed at persuading the country to intensify cooperation with his agency over its contested nuclear programme.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told ElBaradei that Iran would not submit to the demands of its arch foe the United States in the standoff over the nuclear drive, which the West fears could be aimed at producing a bomb.

World powers have repeatedly called on Iran to freeze uranium enrichment -- which can be used to make either nuclear fuel or a bomb -- but Iran has insisted its programme is peaceful and that it has the right to master the full fuel cycle.

Sarkozy, who begins a three-nation Gulf tour Sunday in Saudi Arabia, asked if he thought US President George W. Bush could launch a military strike against Iran before he leaves office next year, said "our objective is a solution negotiated within the framework of a multilateral system."

He noted that the two UN Security Council sanctions resolutions against Iran were adopted under article 41 of the UN Charter, which excludes the use of force.

Bush, also currently on a tour of Gulf states and due to visit Saudi Arabia on Monday, has sought to rally support for increased pressure on Iran among neighbors.

But Bush has also been careful to reassure Gulf allies fearful of renewed conflict in their backyard that it regards military action against Iran as a last resort.

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