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New French president threatens Iran with new sanctions

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 1st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

New French president François Hollande had some stern words for the nation of Iran in his visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hollande, who took the helm in May, had a working lunch with Netanyahu who reiterated his hawkish stance with the Middle Eastern nations and its nuclear weapons ambitions.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Both Hollande and Netanyahu plan to attend a memorial ceremony Thursday for the victims of a March shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse. Uppermost in the two's meeting were sanctions against Iran.

During the meeting, Netanyahu called for "even tougher sanctions against Iran," saying: "The sanctions are taking a bite out of Iran's economy, but unfortunately they have not stopped the Iranian [nuclear] program."

According to Netanyahu, a nuclear-armed Iran threatens the existence of the Jewish state. He has also refused to rule out military action, fuelling speculation that Israel is planning an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Iran has denied these accusations, saying it has a right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

The French government has said that it wants to keep the door open for dialogue with Iran. Hollande told reporters that Tehran had not proved its claims that its nuclear program was peaceful and that it did not intend to build a bomb.

France, he said, was "ready to vote for other sanctions, as many as necessary."

Netanyahu and Hollande will also touch on ways to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Israel's continued settlement-building has been a point of contention between the two leaders.

The Israeli premier last visited Paris in May 2011 in a bid to secure French support to undermine a Palestinian initiative to seek full membership at the United Nations. Hollande has already welcomed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to Paris on two occasions since taking office in May.

Netanyahu met Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius later that day.

Netanyahu, who is in the middle of the campaign season ahead of a January election, "hopes to build a good working relationship with the French leader," a source close to Netanyahu told journalists.

Both Hollande and Netanyahu will travel to Toulouse this week to attend a memorial ceremony for three children and a French-Israeli teacher shot dead at a Jewish school in March by Mohammed Merah, who later confessed that he was inspired by al-Qaeda before being killed in a shootout with police.

"Netanyahu wants to send a message of solidarity with victims of terrorism -- both Jewish and non-Jewish," an Israeli source involved in the Toulouse visit said. "He wants to emphasize the importance of unified international action against terrorism.

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