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France's Sarkozy Stands By Reforms Ahead of Strikes


French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he will not back down from his reform campaign, despite threats of a massive transportation strike.

The French leader's comments to the European Parliament in Strasbourg came hours before a planned strike by France's public transport workers protesting his economic reforms. These include the elimination of special pension rights that allow some workers to retire early.

The strikes could last for days and are expected to cripple French commuter rail lines. Employees of French electricity and gas companies may also join the walkouts.

University students already have shut down about a dozen schools across the country to protest against a proposals to reform funding rules for higher education.

In 1995, strikes forced then-President Jacques Chirac to back down from reform plans. This time, opinion polls indicate most people side with Mr. Sarkozy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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