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Sarkozy Has Stern Words At UN For Russia, Iran

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy has warned Russia after its war with Georgia that force cannot be used to settle disputes and made plain to Iran that he would push hard for a new round of sanctions over its nuclear program.

"What Europe is telling Russia is that we want links with Russia, that we want to build a shared future with Russia, we wanted to be Russia's partner," Sarkozy said in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

"Europe is also telling cannot compromise on the principle of states' sovereignty and independence, their territorial integrity, or respect for international law," said Sarkozy, who presides over France's European Union presidency.

Russia invaded Georgia last month to thwart an attempt by the Georgian military to retake the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Sarkozy brokered a cease-fire to end the conflict, although the United States and EU countries have sharply criticized Russia for what they described as its excessive use of force.

"Europe's message to all states is that it cannot accept the use of force to settle a dispute," he said.

Sarkozy also said the EU would never tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, "which would endanger the peace and stability of an entire region, nor can it tolerate Iran calling for the destruction of...Israel."

He told reporters that Paris fully supported a fourth round of sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend its nuclear-enrichment program, but acknowledged that Western powers would need Russia's support to pass a new UN sanctions resolution.

Tehran denies Western charges that it wants nuclear arms.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who has said Israel should be wiped off the map, was expected to speak later in the day.

Sarkozy also vowed not to abandon Afghanistan and allow "the Taliban allied with Al-Qaeda again to take a people hostage and turn an entire country into a terrorist base."

War Crimes In Darfur

The French leader also confirmed that France could support a suspension of any International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for possible war crimes in Darfur, although he made clear that his support would have some tough conditions attached.

"If the Sudanese authorities do change, totally change their policy, then France would not be opposed to using...Article 16," Sarkozy said. "We want peace in Darfur."

He was referring to Article 16 of the ICC statute, which permits the UN Security Council to freeze indictments for up to one year at a time.

In July, chief ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the court's judges to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir. He accused the Sudanese leader of launching a campaign of genocide in 2003 that has killed 35,000 people outright, at least another 100,000 through starvation and disease, and forced 2.5 million from their homes.

The African Union, Arab League, and other alliances have urged the Security Council to block any moves to indict al-Bashir to avoid shattering the fragile peace process in Darfur.

Moreno-Ocampo is in New York meeting with African Union and other officials to defend his application for indicting al-Bashir.