The leader of the Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore, has said he would be quite happy to meet with the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, if it was a meaningful meeting.

Mr Gilmore turned down an invitation to a round-able discussion with Mr Sarkozy at the French Embassy in Dublin tomorrow.

However, he has revealed that exploratory talks have taken place about a possible meeting between opposition leaders and Mr Sarkozy at Government Buildings tomorrow.

Mr Gilmore said there has not been any invitation at this stage but if a meaningful meeting can be arranged he will attend it.

Walshe warns of WTO threat to agriculture

The President of the Irish Farmers' Association has warned that the threat of World Trade Organisation talks to agriculture has not gone away.

Speaking on RTE Radio's This Week programme, Padraig Walshe said that the likely decisions to be made at WTO talks in Geneva next week will have a profound effect on the attitude of rural and farming communities if a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was to be held.

He said in excess of two thirds of farmers voted Yes to Lisbon following the Taoiseach's commitment to use the veto in the WTO talks.

Mr Walshe said he will be calling on the French President, when he meets him tomorrow in Dublin, to keep in mind that the attitude of rural Ireland to any future support for the European ideal will be profoundly damaged if Peter Mandelson's proposals succeed.

Ryan says Sarkozy is welcome visitor

Fianna Fáil's Dublin MEP Eoin Ryan has said that President Sarkozy is welcome to visit Ireland tomorrow.

Mr Ryan said: 'We must put this visit into perspective. Nicolas Sarkozy is the President of the European Council, and he is de-facto leading the work of the EU Governments in Europe for the next six months.

'I believe that President Sarkozy is welcome to visit Ireland and to talk to the Irish Government and to interested parties about the future direction of the European Union.

'I do not believe for one moment that he is coming here to lecture the Irish people about the Lisbon Treaty. I believe that he is coming to Ireland to listen.'