Â PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday he would refuse to greet any world leader who refused to recognise Israel — a remark apparently ruling out any face-to-face meetings with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Sarkozy made the off-the-cuff remark in a speech to the French-Jewish community in which he reaffirmed his strong support for international sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme.
“I won’t shake hands with people who refuse to recognise Israel,” Sarkozy declared.
* Hmmm. Last time we checked he was getting real chummy with Gaddafi, so when did GaddafiÂ recognize Israel?
Ahmadinejad, Iran’s hardline president, has in the past called for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map”.
France has led the way in pressing for sanctions at the U.N. Security Council and in the European Union to get Iran to halt atomic work which Western powers fear is aimed at making bombs.
It recently urged energy companies Total and Gaz de France to refrain from investing in the OPEC country.
Iran says its nuclear programme is a peaceful drive to generate electricity.
“Proliferation is a grave threat to international security. We cannot sit by and do nothing while Iran develops technologies which are in violation of international law,” Sarkozy said.
“Given that Iran has chosen the fait accompli we do not have any other choice but to strengthen its isolation that involves new sanctions at the Security Council and the European Union,” he said.Â
Sarkozy announced he would visit Israel in May to mark the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding after a March visit to Paris by Israel President Shimon Peres.