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France's interior minister defends close US ties

Written by: Staff
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PARIS, Sep 9 (Reuters) Conservative French presidential frontrunner and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy defended in an interview his pro-American views and warned that France was just as vulnerable as the United States to terrorism.

''I am of the view that democracies must be allies. What happened on September 11, 2001 in New York could happen in Paris,'' he said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper released ahead of publication on Sunday.

Sarkozy's comments come on the eve of an official visit to New York and Washington which coincides with commemorations of the hijacked plane attacks on U.S. targets which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Sarkozy's detractors say he is too close to the US, whose ties with France soured because of Paris's opposition in 2003 to the US-led war in Iraq which ousted Saddam Hussein.

Sarkozy supported President Jacques Chirac's warnings on the risks of an Iraq war, saying one of the consequences today was the emergence of Iran as a regional power, with its historic rival racked by a bloody sectarian conflict.

REUTERS PDM HS1659

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