Nicolas Sarkozy to visit US next month

The French presiden plans to pay his first official visit to the United States next month. Iran will be "at the heart of discussions" between George W. Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy will also address the U.S. Congress on Nov. 7, "a very great honor granted only exceptionally to a foreign guest. We are very honored," said the spokesman, David Martinon.

Bush and his wife, Laura, will host Sarkozy at a White House dinner on Nov. 6 and the two leaders will hold talks the next day, he added.

"The issue of Iran will be at the heart of discussions," he said.

Sarkozy is pushing for tougher economic sanctions against Iran to punish its refusal to freeze its nuclear program, which France, the United States and other powers suspect is aimed at producing weapons. Iran insists it is for civilian power.

Sarkozy took power in May and is proving more U.S.-friendly than his predecessor, Jacques Chirac. Sarkozy vacationed in the United States this summer, and met Bush casually at his family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Sarkozy was treated to an all-American lunch, a ride on a speed boat and an introduction to the whole Bush family. Bush's parents own an oceanfront estate in Kennebunkport, and the U.S. president used all the trappings to make Sarkozy feel welcome.

Bush and Sarkozy also met on the sidelines of the G-8 summit of major industrialized nations in Germany in June.

Sarkozy's office last week announced his divorce from his wife of 11 years, Cecilia.

The French president will be accompanied on his trip by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Justice Minister Rachida Dati and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde. Rama Yade, junior minister for human rights and Bernard Accoyer, president of France's lower house of parliament, will also make the trip.

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