Iran Nuclear NewsMerkel, Sarkozy say sanctions and trade curbs on Iran...

Merkel, Sarkozy say sanctions and trade curbs on Iran possible

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AFP: French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Monday more sanctions may be necessary to persuade Iran to suspend nuclear work and opened the possibility of reducing trade ties with Tehran. BERLIN (AFP) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Monday more sanctions may be necessary to persuade Iran to suspend nuclear work and opened the possibility of reducing trade ties with Tehran.

“We are on the same wavelength: no nuclear weapons for Iran,” Sarkozy told reporters after talks with Merkel.

“Germany and France believe in the usefulness of sanctions.”

Merkel said she and Sarkozy had also considered other ways to tighten the screws on Iran if no agreement on sanctions could be struck within the UN Security Council.

“We discussed how we and other European countries each want to reduce our trade links with Iran,” Merkel said.

The chancellor noted that the German government had already reduced its export guarantees with Iran and that German banks had ceased to do business with the Islamic republic.

Germany, however, remains one of Iran’s most important economic partners.

Merkel said there was “broad agreement” on the need to urge China and Russia — both Security Council members — to support punitive measures if Tehran refused to comply with international demands.

Before deciding whether to impose a third round of sanctions, Germany plus the five Security Council members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — are waiting to hear the findings of a report from the UN nuclear watchdog in mid-November on Iran’s cooperation.

The six powers have engaged in fraught negotiations with Iran for years to convince it to stop enriching uranium, which can be used to generate energy but also to make an atomic bomb.

The United States and several of its European allies believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied.

Merkel and Sarkozy met after both holding talks separately with US President George W. Bush last week in which there was broad agreement that a diplomatic solution to the Iranian crisis should be pursued.

Sarkozy confirmed he would receive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Paris during a visit expected later this year, saying he deserved recognition for his decision to abandon the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“If I do not meet him, if we do not talk with countries that are becoming more respectable, what can we say to Iran and North Korea?” the French president said.

The overall theme of Monday’s talks in Berlin, the latest in a regular series of discussions involving a host of ministers from France and Germany, was the integration of immigrants.

Sarkozy said illegal immigration must be curbed to allow countries to absorb immigrants.

“The biggest opponent of integration is illegal immigration,” the president said after visiting a French-German school.

A man in his twenties tried to accost Merkel and Sarkozy outside the school, journalists at the scene reported.

The man shouted comments in German about Germany being a “police state” and tried to move towards the two leaders with his fists raised, but was stopped and dragged away by security personnel.

In a light-hearted encounter, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner sang at the recording of a “rhythm and blues” song about foreigners integrating into German society.

The song was written by three musicians from Germany’s large Turkish community.

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