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Sun 7 Oct 2007 01:41 AM

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Iran tells France energy deals too good to ignore

Oil minister says energy market too attractive to give up as France calls for more sanctions.

Iran's oil minister on Saturday brushed aside calls by Paris for French firms to avoid Iranian energy deals, saying the world's fourth largest oil producer was too attractive for them to ignore, a news agency reported.

France, which has been taking a leading role in calling for more sanctions to isolate Iran over its nuclear ambitions, has urged energy companies Total and Gaz de France to refrain from investing in the OPEC member.

"Iran's (energy) reserves and its market are too attractive for the French to give up," caretaker Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari was quoted by Iran's student news agency ISNA as saying.

Iran has the second largest gas reserves after Russia and the second biggest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia.

Total is considering investing in a multi-billion-dollar gas project in Iran but says a decision is still some way off. It has cited spiralling costs and geopolitical concerns.

In remarks cited by state radio last month, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran could review economic ties with France because of remarks by French officials that have included pointing to a possible war over Iran's atomic plans.

Iran insists it wants to master nuclear technology so that it can make the fuel for nuclear power stations but Western powers say this is a smokescreen for a military programme.

France has urged the European Union to consider sanctions outside the United Nations framework.
Several big French firms, including carmaker Renault, have business dealings and investments in Iran.

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