Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, May 3, 2007)

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


AFGHANISTAN

Q - About the hostages in Afghanistan. President Karzai has said he’s doing ‘everything’ to release the hostages. Are you optimistic about a resolution before Saturday? Is the secretary-general of the Quai d’Orsay going to Kabul?

We are continuing our efforts in liaison with President Karzai and the Afghan authorities to obtain their release at the earliest possible moment. I’m not informed that the secretary-general is making another visit to Kabul but we are fully mobilized and taking all the necessary measures at all times.

ESTONIA/RUSSIA

Q - What is France’s position on the current tension between Tallinn and Moscow?

We are watching with concern the development of relations between Russia and Estonia.

We call on both parties to avoid any escalation and to engage in dialogue to find solutions to the various problems that come up in a spirit of understanding and mutual respect.

With regard more particularly to the situation of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow, we support the move by the presidency of the European Union to contact the Russian authorities. We hope that the latter will receive the representatives of the European ‘troika’ as soon as possible. The Vienna Convention must be applied.

IRAQ

Q - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is going to meet her Syrian and Iranian counterparts on the sidelines of the international conference on Iraq. Do you have any comment?

We have no confirmation of these meetings which are a matter for the countries concerned, and it’s not for me to comment.

In general terms, the conference affords an opportunity for Iran and Syria to demonstrate a constructive attitude and to make a useful contribution to Iraq’s stabilization. With regard to the question of Iraq, we are in favor of dialogue with these two countries.

WORLD BANK

Q - What’s happening in the European consultations over the fate of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz? Is France planning to call on him to step down if there is a formal finding by the World Bank ethics committee?

The ad hoc committee set up by the board of the World Bank has completed its hearings and is due to present its report shortly. The president of the World Bank will then have a few days to present his comments. After that the board will have to examine the report and reach any eventual conclusions. We will make a statement after seeing these elements and in liaison with our European partners./.

Embassy of France, May 3, 2007