Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, July 2, 2007)

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


UNITED KINGDOM/TERRORISM

In the wake of the weekend's terrorist attacks against the United Kingdom, Bernard Kouchner, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, talked on Saturday to his British counterpart, David Miliband. He assured him that the United Kingdom could count on France's full support and solidarity in the fight against terrorism, as President Nicolas Sarkozy had said to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

IRAN

Q - The US authorities today accused Iran of high-level support for terrorist cells made up of detached elements from the Al-Mahdi army in Iraq, and also accused Hezbollah of direct involvement in combat training alongside these cells. Do you have any comment?

We have no knowledge of these statements.

We think it is important for the dialogue that has begun between the United States and Iran on the situation in Iraq to continue.

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

Q - Does France support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ proposal for international troops to be deployed in Gaza? Do you think Hamas should be part of the political process in the Palestinian Territories?

With regard to the international force, France considers that it is up to the parties to make clear their expectations and to agree among themselves. As Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner said Friday at his press briefing with the president of the Palestinian Authority, we are ready to consider it but ‘this will never replace the political process.’

With regard to your question about Hamas, the conditions laid down by the Quartet still apply: recognition of Israel, rejection of violence and acceptance of the peace agreements signed with the PLO.

LEBANON

Q - President Bush has barred several Lebanese and Syrian figures from entering the US. The White House considers that the individuals on the list are working to destabilize the Lebanese government and that this decision is a new way for Washington to show its support to the Lebanese people and government. Do you support this type of measure?

You’re talking about a decision by the US authorities. It is not our place to comment on it.

Q - Could we have your reactions to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the implementation of resolution 1701 on Lebanon?

We are examining this report with our partners with a view to consultations in the Security Council in the middle of July.

We share the secretary-general’s opinion that any movement towards a long-term solution requires progress on the key questions, specifically the release of the Israeli soldiers and Lebanese prisoners, strict compliance with the arms embargo, halting Israeli overflights, and settlement of the Shebaa Farms issue.

We are paying particularly close attention to violations of the arms embargo. We think it is imperative to tighten controls at the Syrian-Lebanese border, based on the recommendations made by the independent evaluation mission.

Q - Do you think the US accusations against Hezbollah might influence the composition of the list of people invited to the meeting for Lebanese parties due to be held in Paris?

France’s objective is to promote the re-establishment of dialogue between the political forces in Lebanon. In this spirit we intend to invite all their representatives.

Q - Has the list been finalized? Has the date been set? When will the invitations go out?

We are continuing to work on the preparation of this gathering. We’ll inform you of the arrangements as soon as possible.

DARFUR

Q - What’s your reaction to this weekend’s statements by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir? In your view, do they go in the right direction and are they in line with the Addis Ababa agreements, especially concerning his promises to exercise his right of resistance to Western intervention and his rejection of a UN oil-for-food-type program?

As was stated at the meeting in Paris, which took forward the Addis Ababa agreements, our objective is to help resolve the crisis with respect for Sudan’s sovereignty and unity. The UN Security Council has emphasized this repeatedly.

The priority is to strengthen the current momentum and implement the commitments that have been made by the Sudanese authorities:

- facilitation of humanitarian operations in accordance with the UN/Sudan agreement of March 28, 2007;

- the African Union and United Nations hybrid operation.

The aim is also to re-start the search for a political solution under joint AU and UN mediation. In order to do this, the roadmap has to be implemented.

Everybody’s efforts are needed: from the protagonists in the crisis first--the government of Sudan and the rebels--and also the international community which must remain united and must support the efforts of the African Union and the UN.

The Paris meeting showed that the momentum existed within the international community to resolve the crisis in Darfur. The Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman has said that his government is ready to cooperate in the implementation of the recommendations of the Paris meeting. We must all strengthen this momentum and again send a message of unity to all the actors in the crisis.

CHAD

Q - Brahim Deby, son of Chadian President Idriss Deby, was assassinated Monday morning in the parking lot of his building in Courbevoie (Hautes-de-Seine). What is your reaction?

We were informed of the news.

We offer our condolences to the families and loved ones.

Since there is a crime, it is a matter for the judicial authorities.

AFRICA/FINANCES

Q - A pan-African fund, dubbed the ‘Scipion Africa Opportunities Fund,’ has been launched in London to assist African banks. Do you think this hedge fund represents an opportunity or a risk for African economies?

We’ve no knowledge of this financial instrument.

KOSOVO

Q - Is France ready to support another round of negotiations between the Albanians and Serbs without a deadline and the automatic application of the Ahtisaari plan?

As President Sarkozy proposed at the G8 meeting, France is in favor of extending the negotiations for a limited time on the basis of the Ahtisaari plan.

A draft resolution to this end has been presented. Talks are continuing between the partners.

Q - Is France ready to consider pursuing negotiations in the contact group on the future status of Kosovo without the UN special envoy?

The question hasn’t been decided at this stage. Consultations are continuing within the contact group on this matter.

COLOMBIA

Q - The Colombian president has accused France, Spain and Switzerland of disrespect for, in his view, putting his government and FARC on the same level in the communiqué issued last Friday. What’s your response? Also he says that the FARC was to hand over Clara Rojas to a European envoy and they’ve not kept their promise. Can you confirm this?

We commented on this question several times last week.

Our objective remains the release of all the hostages.

With regard to Ms Rojas’ situation, I remind you of our concern to remain discreet in the interest of a positive development in this matter./.

Embassy of France, July 2, 2007