(Reuters) The U.S. and French presidents forged a common front against Iran's nuclear ambitions on Wednesday, signalling a further warming of once-chilly relations between Washington and Paris.
In a sign that diplomatic ties have advanced beyond the era of "freedom fries," U.S. President George W. Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to keep the pressure on Tehran, which has defied demands to halt uranium enrichment.
"The idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is dangerous," Bush said standing shoulder to shoulder with Sarkozy at a news conference in Mount Vernon, the historic estate of George Washington, the first U.S. president.
Sarkozy, who has won U.S. praise for taking a stronger stand against Iran than his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, agreed that a nuclear-armed Iran would be "unacceptable" and said there was "a need to toughen the sanctions" against Tehran.
Bush has been ratcheting up his rhetoric toward Tehran and last month raised the spectre of World War Three if it were allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Bush and Sarkozy expressed hope that the standoff can be resolved peacefully. Tehran insists it wants nuclear technology strictly for civilian purposes, which Sarkozy acknowledged was its right.
Underscoring how times have changed, Sarkozy trumpeted strengthened ties with Bush in a speech earlier to a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was filled with effusive praise for American values.
" America can count on France in its battle on terror," Sarkozy said, pledging that his country would stand by the United States in the fight against nuclear proliferation in Iran and terrorism in Afghanistan.