updated 5/16/2008 11:38:58 AM ET 2008-05-16T15:38:58

French wireless operator Orange said Friday it has signed a deal with Apple to sell its iPhone in the Middle East, Africa and several European countries.

The announcements likely will help Apple meet its goal of selling 10 million iPhones by the end of this year. A new version of the iPhone may be unveiled next month at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

France Telecom's Orange said in a one-sentence statement that it will sell the handset in Austria, Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Jordan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland and African markets later this year.

France Telecom spokesman Bertrand Deronchaine said Orange will be the exclusive iPhone provider in Belgium and Romania, with co-exclusive or non-exclusive deals in other countries. He declined to offer more details about the arrangement.

Apple has so far struck exclusive deals for the iPhone with AT&T in the United States, O2 in Britain, T-Mobile in Germany and Orange in France.

Switzerland's leading telecommunications company, Swisscom AG, said earlier this week it has signed with Apple to carry the iPhone later this year,

Apple plans further expansion later this year through the partnership with Mexico City-based America Movil SAB. The top mobile phone operator in Latin America said earlier this month it plans to bring the iPhone to all of its Latin American operations.

Apple has also signed deals with Rogers Communications Inc. to sell the device in Canada; Milan-based Telecom Italia SpA to sell the iPhone in Italy; and Vodafone Group PLC, the world's largest mobile company by sales, to sell it in 10 countries, including Australia, India, Italy and Turkey.

Since the combination iPod-cell phone-Internet device went on sale last June in the U.S., Apple has sold 5.4 million worldwide, based on data as of the end of Apple's fiscal second quarter, which ended in March.

Many consumers in countries where Apple has not struck iPhone deals with mobile operators are using them already.

They're using "unlocked" iPhones that have been modified to work over any cellular network, a sign of the growing worldwide demand for the phones that has also irked Apple, which has disabled some unlocked phones through software updates.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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