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Luxembourg Says Sarkozy Roma Remark 'Malevolent'

French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has said French President Nicolas Sarkozy's suggestion his country host Roma was clearly "malevolent."

Asselborn spoke in reaction to an apparently ironic remark made by Sarkozy that an EU commissioner who criticized France's expulsion of Roma allow them to settle in Luxembourg.

On September 14, European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding -- who is a Luxembourger -- accused France of breaking EU anti-discrimination rules by sending back hundreds of Roma to Romania and Bulgaria.

Reding, who is leading an investigation into the expulsions, threatened to initiate legal proceedings against France.

She said the deportations were a "disgrace" evoking mass persecutions of Jews and Gypsies during World War II.

Sarkozy is due to discuss the France-EU spat today at a meeting with European Commission President Jose Barroso in Brussels, ahead of an EU summit on September 16.

compiled from agency reports