Hollande and Peres hold a press conference in
Hollande and Peres hold a press conference inAFP photo

Sanctions on Iran over its contested nuclear program are biting but need to be strengthened further, President Shimon Peres and French President Francois Hollande said on Friday.

Peres was Hollande’s guest for a festive lunch at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

The two discussed the promotion of peace in the Middle East, including what's happening in Lebanon and Syria, as well as the Iranian nuclear threat.

Western powers suspect Iran's nuclear program to be a cover for building an atomic weapons capability, a charge which Tehran strongly denies.

"I have said how much we want the sanctions to be beefed up, which are already efficient," Hollande said at a news conference after meeting Peres, according to AFP.

"The sanctions are effective more than we thought but not enough... and I was very glad to hear from the president (Hollande) that he plans to take more measures because if we can end this danger without military use, it will be better," Peres said.

Iran last month held talks with the five UN Security Council permanent members -- the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France -- plus Germany on its nuclear ambitions in the Kazakh capital Almaty.

The meeting saw the group offer Iran a softening of non-oil or financial sector-related sanctions in exchange for concessions over the country's uranium enrichment operations.

Peres also told Hollande that U.S. President Barack Obama's upcoming trip to Israel is a "good occasion" to re-launch the stalled Middle East peace process.

"We are expecting in a very short while the visit of President Obama," Peres said during the meeting with Hollande, according to AFP.

"We consider him as a friend and... I think it will be a good occasion to restart the peace process," he added

Obama is due in Israel at the end of this month on a trip that will also see him travel to see Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and visit Jordan on the first foreign policy mission of his second term.

A U.S. official, however, said that Obama on Thursday "noted that the trip is not dedicated to resolving a specific policy issue, but is rather an opportunity to consult with the Israeli government about a broad range of issues -- including Iran, Syria, the situation in the region, and the peace process."

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)