Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
(excerpts)

(Paris, March 1, 2007)

[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]


(…)

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

In the context of preparations for the presidential elections, the national electoral commission closed, on February 28, 2007, all the consular electoral lists which will take effect on March 10, 2007.

941,364 voters are registered on the consular electoral lists.

821,600 have chosen to exercise their right to vote abroad in the election of the president and 119,764 will take part in this election in France, voting personally or by proxy.

The merger, in 2005, of the electoral lists for the election of counselors to the Assemblée des Français de l’étranger and for the referendum and the presidential election, and the mobilization and civic information campaign launched in 2006 have produced results: in 2007 there will be 436,063 voters more than in the 2002 presidential election.

These citizens will be able to vote in 546 polling places; of these, 164 are decentralized, being located in places other than diplomatic and consular premises. The list of polling places was published in the Journal Officiel on February 24, 2007.

GLOBAL FUND TO FIGHT AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS AND MALARIA

France will take part in the first meeting of the new cycle to replenish the resources of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which will be held in Oslo from March 5 to 7 at the initiative of the Norwegian government. It will be chaired by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, assisted by Sven Sandstrom, former director general of the World Bank.

At the meeting, the donor countries will review the results and impact of the funds’ actions and the predictable financial needs for the next three years. Professor Michel Kazatchkine, French ambassador against AIDS and transmissible diseases, who will be the Fund’s next executive director, will attend.

The first conference, launched by France in 2005, raised $3.7 billion for 2006-2007. The second replenishment cycle for the years 2008-2010 will take place in two phases, in Oslo in March, then in Berlin in September.

France, which is currently the second leading donor to the Fund, after the United States, with a contribution of 225 million euros in 2006 and 300 million announced by President Chirac for 2007, believes the Fund must continue to be the leading multilateral financial instrument in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

AFGHANISTAN

Q - Richard Boucher, the US diplomat for Afghanistan is in Paris. Does France intend to reassure him that the French forces with ISAF remain available for real, specific operations in the southern zone if the command asks for them?

I confirm that Mr. Boucher is having consultations today with Foreign Ministry officials about Afghanistan in particular.

May I remind you that France is a major contributor to ISAF, with a contingent 1,100 strong. It commanded ISAF from August 2004 to February 2005 in the framework of the Eurocorps. It has had command of the province of Kabul since August 2006, until April 2007. Seven French soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan since the fall of 2005.

At the NATO summit in Riga in November 2006, President Chirac announced an adaptation of the French force in Afghanistan.

He stated that the actual numbers of our contingent would be maintained.

He said France was ready to authorize our personnel to leave Kabul on an as-need basis to assist the Allies, including in the south. In this regard, a French civilian-military detachment was deployed in the south in January in the province of Kandahar, in support of Canadian forces.

It has also been decided to reinforce our air assets at Douchanbe, in Tajikistan, and to deploy helicopters in Kabul.

The French naval aviation group, consisting of the Charles de Gaulle and nearly 25 fighter aircraft, is currently en route to provide support to US operations in Afghanistan.

Lastly, our Afghan army training team has been reinforced, with a detachment of instructors of about 80 persons.

IRAN/NUCLEAR ISSUE

Q - Can you confirm that there’s a telephone conference today between the political directors of the Six on the Iranian nuclear issue? If so, can you tell us exactly when it’s to be?

In the wake of the London meeting, it was agreed that contacts should continue among the political directors. A telephone conference is scheduled today, during the afternoon./.

Embassy of France, March 1, 2007