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Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Sarkozy comments spark Iran row

French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Iran warned of repercussions if Mr Sarkozy's comments were repeated

Iran has summoned the French ambassador in Tehran over comments made by the French president about his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Nicolas Sarkozy said earlier this week that he would not be able to shake hands with someone who said Israel had to be wiped off the map.

Ambassador Bernard Poletti was told of Iran's strong objections.

He was told there would be repercussions for relations if such remarks were repeated.

How is it that a people such as the Iranian people have the misfortune of being represented as they are today by some of their leaders?
Nicolas Sarkozy

In the speech, given on 8 December on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mr Sarkozy said: "How is it that a people such as the Iranian people - one of the world's greatest peoples, one of the world's oldest civilisations, sophisticated, cultured, open - have the misfortune of being represented as they are today by some of their leaders?

"I have said this to my friend Kofi [Annan]: I find it impossible to shake hands with somebody who has dared to say that Israel must be wiped off the map.

"I know perfectly well that we must resolve what is perhaps the most serious international crisis we are having to resolve: that of Iran moving towards a nuclear bomb.

"We cannot resolve it without talking to Iranian leaders, but, after what was the Shoah, after what was the 20th Century, I cannot sit at the same table as a man who dares to say: Israel must be wiped off the map."

The Iranian president has repeatedly called for an end to the Israeli state and has described the holocaust as a myth.

In October 2005, the Iranian president made a statement in which he envisaged the replacement of Israel with a Palestinian state.

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