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Sarkozy Repeats Vow for Bold Action to Recharge French Economy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is vowing to act boldly to implement far-reaching government reforms that helped him win election last month.

Mr. Sarkozy made his comments Wednesday in a televised address to lawmakers in his (UMP) ruling party. He reviewed plans to revive the country's tepid economy, and a blueprint for sweeping away structural constraints, he says, have led to high unemployment and slow growth.

He also pledged to reduce the French debt by five percent within the next five years.

The president re-shuffled his cabinet Tuesday, placing a woman, Christine Legarde, in charge of the French economy for the first time. He also named a woman of Algerian origin, Fadela Amara, to a senior post in the ministry of Urban Affairs.

A Senegalese-born woman, Rama Yade, was named a junior minister for Foreign Affairs.

In another sign of breaking with the past, Mr. Sarkozy met Wednesday with far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. Previous presidents, conservative Jacques Chirac and Socialist Francois Mitterand, refused to meet the anti-immigration firebrand.

Mr. Sarkozy has called a special session of parliament for June 26 to push through some of his ambitious reforms, including tax cuts, incentives for people to work overtime, and tough new immigration rules.

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