Senators urge US backing to French push on Iran

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The United States should throw its "full support" behind French President Nicolas Sarkozy's call to freeze Iran central bank assets and halt imports of Iranian oil, two key US senators urged Tuesday.

Republican Senator John McCain and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman called France's push for new sanctions "the logical next step" in efforts to force the Islamic republic to halt what the West charges is a nuclear weapons program.

"We applaud French President Nicolas Sarkozy's initiative to rally countries around the world to sanction the Central Bank of Iran and suspend oil purchases from Iran," the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

"We hope President (Barack) Obama will throw the full support of the United States behind the Sarkozy initiative, working together with our French allies, along with other partners around the world," they said.

The French presidency called Monday for "new unprecedented sanctions" on Iran, appealing to Britain, Canada, Germany, Japan and the United States as well as European Union leaders for support.

Britain announced it was severing links with Iranian banks because of what it called evidence that they are involved in the development of a nuclear weapons program.

Washington swiftly followed suit, detailing sanctions against goods, services and technologies for the vital petrochemical sector, and warning banks worldwide to weigh the "risks" of doing business with Iran.

© 2011 AFP

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