Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, July 3, 2007)

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


ISRAEL/FRANCE

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will visit France on July 4. President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet with Ms Livni at 4 p.m. The meeting will be preceded at 1 p.m. by a working luncheon given by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner.

The talks will be devoted primarily to the situation in the Palestinian Territories and the need to re-start the peace process. We consider the time is right to move forward, to take swift, tangible and visible measures so as to support moderate Palestinian forces and revive a political process of substantive negotiations on the final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is important to give a ‘political horizon’ to the Israeli and Palestinian people who both aspire to peace and security.

Lebanon and regional questions will also be discussed. Strengthening bilateral relations and strategic dialogue between France and Israel will be an important point in these exchanges.

There will be a press briefing after the luncheon at 2:15 p.m.

Q - You say ‘so as to support moderate Palestinian forces.’ Can you tell us what it means?

All those who support Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as we said when he was visiting Paris last Friday.

Q - You say ‘we consider the time is right to move forward.’ What’s special about the time, why now?

We always want to move forward. The time is right--there are the meetings we’ve just mentioned which give us the opportunity to decide together how to go forward, that is to say, progress towards a peaceful solution in the region.

Q - The Israelis yesterday postponed the release of 250 Fatah prisoners. Do you have any comment?

The Israelis announced that they would make the transfers of taxes and customs revenue to the Palestinian Authority. This is a very positive element. We will be talking about this with Ms Livni tomorrow. As for the issue of prisoners, let’s wait till we know more. In general we support everything that may help calm the situation.

Naturally, the minister will take the opportunity of Ms Livni’s visit to discuss these matters with her.

Q - Can you be more precise about the ‘political horizon’? What is the framework for this ‘horizon’?

Our horizon for everyone is peace in the region. This requires the implementation of Security Council resolutions. We had contacts last week with the president of the Palestinian Authority. The foreign minister of the State of Israel is in Paris tomorrow. I refer you to what Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner said during his press briefing with President Mahmoud Abbas: ‘We want to support and encourage everything that may contribute to progress towards peace. We see a lot of goodwill among the parties. We see a great desire for peace among the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.’

Q - You want to strengthen moderate Palestinian forces. These moderate forces exist now in the West Bank. Does that mean that France is in favor of the West Bank solution first? (…)

With regard to supporting moderate forces, I’ve nothing to add to what I’ve said. We’ve been very clear in showing our support for the moderate forces with the visit by President Mahoud Abbas.

As for the West Bank, France still supports the plan for a viable state in accordance with Security Council resolutions. Our position hasn’t changed.

Q - You talk of strengthening bilateral relations and strategic dialogue. What does this notion of strategic dialogue cover? Is it something new in French-Israeli relations to have such dialogue?

Strategic dialogue, which has deepened over the last three years, has focused in particular on regional issues, the Iranian nuclear issue and the implementation of Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701. But the dialogue is broader; it also concerns the dialogue of cultures.

(…)

Q - You mentioned SCR 1559 and 1701 which enter into the strategic dialogue. Can you give us a few details?

We’re discussing the implementation of these resolutions. I propose to talk about it again after tomorrow’s meeting between the two ministers.

GABON/FRANCE

Jean-Marie Bockel, Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophony, will be in Libreville (Gabon) from July 4- 6, 2007. He will take part in the 33rd ordinary session of the Francophonie Parliamentary Assembly (Thursday, July 5) and the ASECNA (Agency for Air Navigation Security in Africa and Madagascar) council of ministers (Friday, July 6).

On Thursday, July 5, the secretary of state will attend the proceedings of the parliamentary assembly of the Francophonie organization chaired by Bernard Patry (lawmaker from Canada).

In addition to political events in the Francophone countries, the themes chosen for the Libreville meeting will deal with migratory flows within the Francophone space, the protection of individual freedoms in the context of the development of new technologies, and the preservation of cultural diversity.

The event will give the secretary of state an opportunity to meet with Francophonie Secretary-General President Abdou Diouf. He will then attend a dinner to mark the occasion given by President Omar Bongo.

On July 6 the secretary of state will represent France at the proceedings of the council of ministers of ASECNA.

The drafting of a new convention is on the agenda. The procedure for revamping the Convention was launched by the council on July 7, 2006 at France’s initiative.

Mr. Hortefeux is also going to Gabon.

Q - About Mr. Bockel’s trip to Gabon. You said that Immigration Minister Hortefeux will be there on the same dates. Is it a coincidence or a joint visit?

I’ve no other information to give you about Mr. Hortefeux’s trip. I gathered that he was attending like Mr. Bockel, the Francophonie parliamentary gathering. For the rest, I understand their programs are separate. I refer you for details about Mr. Hortefeux’s trip to the Immigration Ministry.

YEMEN

France condemns in the strongest terms the attack which took place in Yemen on July 2, killing seven Spanish tourists and two Yemenis with them, and offers its deepest condolences to the governments and people of Spain and Yemen.

Following the attempted attacks in London and Glasgow and seeing the horror of this violence, France wishes to reaffirm its determination to work with all the European states to intensify the fight against terrorism.

France supports the efforts of the Yemeni government to fight terrorism and calls on French nationals in Yemen to exercise the utmost vigilance.

We remind our compatriots that an official advisory has been issued against travel to the area where the attack took place, as already indicated on our website travel advisory, ‘Conseils aux Voyageurs.’

Our embassy immediately informed all the French community in Yemen and recommended that all French nationals in Yemen avoid leaving their homes for 48 hours. Travel agencies operating in this area were also contacted and have said they share our analysis and would suspend travel in Yemen during these 48 hours.

Q - Why 48 hours?

It’s to see how the situation evolves. We shall have to see whether the time needs to be extended, depending how the situation evolves.

(…)

LEBANON

Q - About Mr. Cousseran’s mission to Beirut. Can we have a list of the people invited? Are they named by party or as individuals? Is the date, July 14-15, final? (…) Will the minister discuss Shebaa Farms with Ms Livni….?

As you saw in the press, Mr. Cousseran’s mission is to end in principle on Thursday. Let’s wait for him to come back, and you’ll have all the information you want about the format, the date and the invitations. Mr. Cousseran’s mission is precisely to clarify the modalities for the gathering.

As for our position on Shebaa Farms, it hasn’t changed and minister will probably discuss this question tomorrow.

(…)

Q - Will the meeting be open to the press?

No, it’s not planned. As you know, it’s an informal meeting. The idea is to assist the dialogue, to help in the discussions in an informal context. We don’t know what the format will be exactly. But you will naturally be kept informed.

(…)

MIDDLE EAST

Q - Can you comment on the military maneuvers on the Golan Heights yesterday?

I’ve no exact information.

Q - Yesterday, Mr. Solana said in Brussels there was a link between what is happening in the Middle East, what is happening in Palestine, the attacks in southern Lebanon and the attacks against the Lebanese army. He added, ‘We can’t deal with these matters without making a link between them.’ Is that France’s position?

The situation in Gaza is the consequence of Hamas militias seizing control through violence. We all know that there are many outside influences being exerted on Hamas. In the present context we think it is very important, indispensable, that all the actors in the region who have influence work for stability. That is France’s position.

Q - And what about Lebanon and the links with Palestine?

I’ve answered that. There are outside influences, we’re well aware of it. It is essential that all the actors who have influence in the region work together for stability.

Q - What outside influences are you referring to?

Everything which is outside. The word is clear.

Q - The French president promised Mr. Abbas to get 15 million euros released. What’s happening? And if this money was released, was it paid to the president or to the Palestinian budget?

To my knowledge the money hasn’t yet been released. The sum will be paid quickly as the president has decided.

FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM

Q - I’m beginning to doubt the policy of the West, like the US and France, against terrorism? We’re seeing an increase in terrorism. There’s something not normal. Do you have an explanation? (…)

I don’t think you can question the unwavering commitment of the West, the Europeans and the Americans, the entire international community, in the fight against terrorism. We condemn acts of terrorism like you.

We remain absolutely determined in our fight against terrorism. We are continually increasing our cooperation whether in Europe or the rest of the world to pursue this fight unremittingly.

(…)

I’m not saying the situation is satisfactory. I’m simply saying that the attacks spur us to redouble our counter-terrorism efforts. This is what we are doing and will continue to do.

We must seize every opportunity for contacts, in a bilateral framework and in multilateral bodies, to combat terrorism.

KOSOVO

Q - Is there any progress towards a solution on the future status of Kosovo after the meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin in the US, and more precisely the possibility of continuing the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina? Is a meeting planned?

As we’ve said, the discussions are continuing in New York. As President Sarkozy proposed to the G8, we are in favor of extending the negotiation for a limited time, on the basis of the Ahtisaari plan. A draft resolution has been presented, and the talks are continuing.

Q - I’m insisting on this question because apparently there was a meeting between Mr. Levitte and our vice minister last Saturday. Apparently, Mr. Levitte said he would support continued negotiations without a deadline.

I refer you to the Elysée.

Q - Has the date of the next Contact Group meeting been set?

It’s not been fixed yet. It is part of the current discussions which include the format.

Q - Is there a possibility of continuing the negotiations without a special envoy?

That is what I was thinking of when I referred to the format. The matter is under discussion.

Q - So the possibility is being considered?

It’s under discussion.

ZAKAYEV

Q - Last week the former Chechen separatists’ envoy in Europe, who is a refugee and has political asylum in London, went to Strasbourg. It seems to have triggered the anger of the Russian foreign minister. (…)

We replied of course to the request for explanations from the Russian authorities which you referred to. The matter was referred to the Ministry of the Interior. Checks were made, and I can tell you that France did not issue a Schengen visa to Mr. Zakayev. With regard to his activities at the Council of Europe, I refer you to that body.

Q - He said he had not been invited.

It’s a matter for the Council of Europe.

Q - Can one move freely around the entire EU if one has asylum in Britain?

There are controls within the Schengen zone. That is what I was referring to when I said that checks had been made by the Interior Ministry.

RWANDA

Q - About the long article in Le Monde. (…)?

We have read the article in Le Monde reporting the existence of official documents relating to French policy in Rwanda, as you say, between 1990 and 1999.

We have not had access to the documents Le Monde refers to. I’ve no comment on their content or the interpretation made by the newspaper. Furthermore, anything concerning judicial procedures may not be commented on.

(…)

Q - Apart from judicial procedures, was the French government informed in 1990 of the risks of genocide or large-scale massacres in Rwanda?

We commented extensively on this matter at the time. There was a parliamentary commission chaired by Mr. Quiles who wrote a report. We gave all the details that were requested in this context. I invite you to consult the report which is public./.

Embassy of France, July 5, 2007