French president holds rare phone talks with Iranian leader, urges robust nuclear deal

French President Francois Hollande's office says he spoke by telephone with Iran's president and urged progress toward a "lasting, robust and verifiable" deal ensuring that Iran does not have access to nuclear weapons.

Hollande's office said in a statement that the two talked Thursday, at Iranian President Hassan Rohani's request.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif are meeting soon in Lausanne, Switzerland. They are trying to reach an outline of an agreement that would grant Iran relief from international sanctions for curbing its nuclear program.

France has been more hawkish than the U.S. at the negotiating table.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Western countries fear it is seeking nuclear weapons.