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FILE PHOTO: A combination of file photos showing French President Emmanuel Macron attending a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 23, 2017, and Iran President Hassan Rouhani looking on at the Campidoglio palace in Rome, Italy, January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photos(reuters_tickers)
PARIS (Reuters) - France's foreign ministry suggested on Monday that new sanctions could be imposed on Iran if needed over its ballistic missile programme.
Iran rejected on Sunday a call by French President Emmanuel Macron for talks on Tehran's ballistic missiles, saying they were defensive and unrelated to a nuclear agreement with world powers.
"As you know, the European Union has already placed sanctions on Iranian entities involved in the ballistic programme," foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne said.
She was responding when asked to clarify comments made by Macron during a trip to the United Arab Emirates last week about the prospects of possible sanctions with regard to those activities.
"If needed, new sanctions could be taken," she said.
The United States accused Iran on Tuesday of supplying Yemen's Houthi rebels with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the United Nations to hold Tehran accountable for violating two U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse Iran of supplying missiles and other weapons to the Houthis, saying the arms were not present in Yemen before conflict broke out there in 2015. Iran denies the charges and blames the conflict on Riyadh.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will be in the Saudi capital later this week and intends to travel to Iran before the end of the month.
"The political dialogue between France and Iran is active and makes it possible to address all topics, including strategic and regional issues," Romatet-Espagne said. "Mr Le Drian will have a firm dialogue when he goes to Iran."
(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Richard Balmforth)