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France warns construction firm Lafarge over offer to build Trump’s wall

Franck Fife, AFP | This file photo taken on April 7, 2014 shows the former logo on a cement mixer of French cement company Lafarge at one of its plants in Paris.

France’s government on Thursday urged the French-Swiss construction giant LafargeHolcim to reconsider its offer to sell cement for building US President Donald Trump's controversial US-Mexico border wall.

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"It (Lafarge) should reflect upon what its interests are. There are other clients who will be stunned by this," French Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Info radio on Thursday, a few days after LafargeHolcim’s chief executive Eric Olsen said he was prepared to supply the materials for it.

"Lafarge says it doesn’t do politics. ... Very well, but I would say companies ... also have social and environmental responsibilities," added France’s top diplomat.

Trump’s plan has caused a diplomatic crisis with Mexico. Officials at LafargeHolcim could not be immediately reached for comment regarding Ayrault’s remarks.

‘We are not a political organisation’

French President François Hollande also urged caution when asked about LafargeHolcim’s readiness to supply the wall project. "I think there are markets where one must be cautious before declaring one’s candidacy," Hollande told a news conference on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Brussels.

Olsen was quoted as saying in an AFP interview published earlier this week: "We are the number-one cement group in the United States. ... We are here to support the construction and development of the country. ... We are not a political organisation."

LafargeHolcim last week acknowledged that one of its cement plants probably paid protection money to armed groups in Syria to keep the factory running, calling the payments reported by news media "unacceptable" in hindsight.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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