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France's Sarkozy Reveals Regional Support for Tougher Immigration Rules


French President Nicolas Sarkozy says the prime ministers of Italy and Spain have suggested a region-wide policy of expelling illegal immigrants from their countries.

Mr. Sarkozy, a strong advocate of immigration reform, spoke Tuesday at a wide-ranging news conference in Paris.

He told reporters that both Spain and Italy have in the past month suggested a joint expulsions policy, and said he welcomes the progress of his ideas in Europe.

The French leader also defended his recent decision to sign multi-billion-dollar trade and investment deals with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Separately, he said that his government will stop funding the English-language version of the state-owned 24-hour news channel, France 24. He said he is not prepared to support programming that is not voiced in French.

France 24 currently broadcasts in French, English and Arabic.

In defending his support for the trade and investment agreements with Libya, Mr. Sarkozy noted that the Libyan leader has scrapped his suspect nuclear program and released six foreign medical workers imprisoned in Libya since the late 1990s.

Mr. Sarkozy also defended his recent decision to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin after his "United Russia" party's victory in widely criticized parliamentary elections last month. President Sarkozy said he could not justify criticizing Mr. Putin one day for suspect electoral practices, and then ask him for help to resolve the ongoing international dispute with Iran over its suspect nuclear program.

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

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