PARIS (AP) _ Iranian President Mohamad Khatami is to visit France next year, his first official trip to a European country, a government spokesman said Monday.

Embassy spokesman Amir Shahidi confirmed a report in the newspaper Le Monde.

Shahidi said the visit would take place toward the end of February, but he could not provide an exact date.

Khatami places special importance on Iran's relations with Paris, and has put off invitations from other European nations until he first visits France, Le Monde quoted Iran's new ambassador to Paris, Ali-Reza Moayeri, as saying.

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine extended an official invitation to Khatami during his visit to Tehran in August. Vedrine's was the highest level visit to Iran in seven years.