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PARIS (Reuters) - France is looking to see if the European Union could compensate European companies that might be facing sanctions by the United States for doing business with Iran, said French finance minister Bruno Le Maire on Sunday.

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FILE PHOTO: French Minister for the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire arrives at panel on the security-development nexus during IMF spring meetings in Washington, U.S., April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Le Maire referred to EU rules going back to 1996 which he said could allow the EU to intervene in this manner to protect European companies against any U.S. sanctions, adding that France wanted the EU to toughen its stance in this area.

In 1996, when the United States tried to penalize foreign companies trading with Cuba, the EU forced Washington to back down by threatening retaliatory sanctions.

European firms doing business in Iran face sanctions from the United States after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

“Are we going to allow the United States to be the economic policeman of the world? The answer is no,” Le Maire told C News TV and Europe 1 radio on Sunday.

Le Maire added it was important Italy kept its EU budget commitments, in light of plans by Italy’s new coalition government to ramp up spending - which could put Rome at odds with the EU.

Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Mark Potter

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currensceneFLOGO WHTsquareThough not the oldest form of currency, some form of shell money appears to have been found on almost every continent. The shell most widely used worldwide as currency was the shell of Cypraea moneta, the money cowry.

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