in depth
 

Timeline: Iran's nuclear  programme

  Video: Iranian view of nuclear standoff
  Video: Changing tack on uranium
  Inside Story: Sanctioning Iran
  Interview: Iran's nuclear ambitions 
  Fears grow over nuclear sites
  Q&A: Uranium enrichment
  Blog: A new focus

Sarkozy's visit was billed as a return to healthy diplomatic relations between the two countries after spats over Tibet.

France, and two other permanent UN security council members, Britain and the US, have been pressing for a fourth round of UN penalties on Iran for its refusal to halt a key part of its nuclear programme that could be used to make weapons.

Iran says it only wants the technology to produce nuclear power.

China and Russia, also permanent members of the security council, have important commercial links to Iran and have been reluctant to support new sanctions.

Relations between France and China collapsed in 2008 after protests by exiled Tibetans and other activists during the Olympic torch's passage through Paris and Sarkozy's talks with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.

Mend relations

Hu told Sarkozy that he was "willing to further expand China-France relations through a deep exchange of views".

Besides Iran, Sarkozy and Hu were expected to discuss Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea and Myanmar, a French official said on Tuesday.

The two leaders said they also discussed reforms of the international financial system, agreeing that instituting more controls was key to preventing another global financial crisis like the one in 2008 that revealed flaws in financial regulation.

Hu said that China believes that the emphasis in the reform of the international financial system should be focused on strengthening financial controls.

"We believe the global financial crisis has not changed the long-term momentum of global economic growth," he said.