France accused Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of promoting "hate speech" in his attacks on Israel on Monday, after its ambassador walked out of the UN racism conference in Geneva.
"The president, who had already rejected the unacceptable statements made by the Iranian president in other circumstances, condemns utterly this hate speech," said President Nicolas Sarkozy's office.
"He calls for the European Union to take an extremely firm stance," it added, in a statement issued in Paris after France's UN ambassador quit the Durban Review Conference in Geneva as Ahmadinejad denounced Israel.
"I hope this protest gesture inspires the international community to take notice," added Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in a second statement.
"The defence of human rights and the fight against all types of racism are too important for the United Nations not to unite against all forms of hate speech, against all perversion of this message," he said.
"Faced with attitudes like that which the Iranian president has just adopted, no compromise is possible."
Delegates from other EU member states also walked out of the conference in Geneva when Ahmadinejad criticised the formation of a "racist government" in the Middle East, in a clear reference to Israel.