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Iran Embassy: Paris's new tourist draw

The chic Parisian neighborhood just off of the Champs Elys'ees, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, has a strange new tourist spot: the Iranian Embassy, site of a difficult diplomatic standoff between France and Iran. Since the end of June, French police have staked out the building to make sure Wahid Gordji, a suspected terrorist leader, does not leave. Cityrama, a local bus company, now includes the Embassy on its tours.

Behind a row of metal barricades, some 300 yards from the Embassy, a constant stream of tourists passes by. Hundreds of heavily-armed French riot police are in the streets, on the rooftops, and even in the sewers below. Metal barricades block nearby roads; pedestrians must show identification cards.

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Only the Iranian charg'e d'affaires here is allowed to leave the building. Three times a day, meals are delivered to the front gate.

The crisis has pulled the country together in a way that perhaps nothing else could. There has been virtually no disagreement over France's handling of the crisis. And the people are willing to give the authorities wide leeway.

``The government will have to make some sort of a deal,'' said a longtime Paris resident, seeming mostly concerned that the government get on with it so the country could move on to traditional summer concerns: vacations.

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