Iran nuclear programme source of 'concern': French minister

6th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

French Defence Minister Herve Morin said on Sunday that France and Saudi Arabia share the same "concerns" about Iran's nuclear programme, adding that he discussed the issue in Riyadh.

"Saudi Arabia shares the same concerns as us," Morin told AFP at the end of a two-day visit to the kingdom. "We share the same analysis for the risks posed by such a programme to stability in the region."

Morin highlighted the potential risks of proliferation, saying that if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon "other countries might want to follow the same path."

Iran is under intense international pressure to halt a nuclear programme that it insists is peaceful, denying it is trying to make a bomb.

The United States is pushing for tougher sanctions against Iran, and said on Thursday it believes the UN Security Council will back new sanctions within the next week.

Morin, who on Saturday gave a message from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Saudi King Abdullah, also met with the kingdom's deputy defence minister, Prince Khaled bin Sultan.

Morin described the talks as "extremely positive," but declined to say whether there was agreement on arms sales, including French multi-mission frigates the kingdom wants to acquire.

The minister also said that he discussed the kingdom's desire to acquire satellites to gain "an autonomous observation capacity."

Morin noted that France has expertise in this area, and said cooperation could also include training.

Saudi Arabia was the largest importer of French weapons from 1999-2008. In 2009, the two countries concluded a deal for Saudi Arabia to purchase three Airbus A330-MRTT tanker aircraft.

© 2010 AFP

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