PARIS - France's foreign ministry first suggested and then "clarified" a policy to impose a unilateral ban on imports of oil from Iran, making clear on Thursday it would only act over Tehran's nuclear program in coordination with European Union partners.
In an initial statement posted on the ministry website, in response to a Reuters question, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said:
"The interruption of Iranian oil purchases is among the measures proposed by France to its partners. We will apply this at a national level."
Another spokesman later called the wording ambiguous, adding: "The decision at a national level will be in coordination with our European partners."
Nevertheless the French remarks led to a wave of comment across Europe showing determination to toughen sanctions -- a drive that is likely to be central to an EU foreign ministers' meeting on Dec. 1.