Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, December 3, 2007)

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


AUSTRALIA/KYOTO PROTOCOL

France welcomes Australia’s announcement today that it is to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

The decision, coming when the conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change is beginning in Bali, is an encouraging sign for the commitment of the international community in the fight against greenhouse gas emission.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - Can you confirm that Syria has been invited to attend the donors’ conference in Paris on December 17? If so, have you had a positive response from Damascus?

We confirm the invitation which was sent last week like the others. We are waiting for all the responses and are confident the international community will attend in large numbers.

Q - Can you confirm there’s a meeting in Paris tomorrow to follow up on Annapolis? If so, who’s attending?

I don’t confirm any such meeting.

Q - What’s your reaction to today’s release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners? Do you see it as a sign of optimism for the case of the Lebanese prisoners?

The prisoners’ release corresponds to the additional confidence-building measures that France urged in order to consolidate the dynamic for peace initiated at Annapolis. We therefore welcome this gesture by the Israeli authorities.

In general, all the gestures helping to contribute to detente in relations among the countries in the region are steps in the right direction.

Q - Regarding the donors' conference on December 17, will it take as its model the Paris I, II and III conferences for Lebanon, with commitments for loan, subsidized interest rates, donations and other sources of financing? Do you have an estimate on what the Palestinians need at this stage?

The donors’ conference on December 17 is expected to favor pledges in the form of donations. With regard to your second question, the work of the conference will rely on the three-year 2008-2010 reform and development program whose main lines were presented by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on November 16.

Q - Will the Syrian foreign minister be meeting with French authorities on the sidelines of the donors’ conference?

As I said, we’ve not yet had the answer to our invitations.

Q - Can we have a complete list of the countries and organization invited to the December 17 conference in Paris?

We’ll give it you tomorrow.

CHAD/EUFOR

Q - Is the fighting in eastern Chad jeopardizing the sending of EUFOR forces?

The president spoke about this in Nice on Friday at the French-Italian summit.

Far from jeopardizing the dispatch of EUFOR forces, the situation makes it even more necessary to protect the civilian refugee and displaced person populations in eastern Chad by means of an international presence.

Q - What’s France's response to the rebel accusations that it’s taking part in the fighting alongside Chadian forces?

We are committed to Chad’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As the spokesperson for the head of the joint staff stated, France is not at war in Chad.

Q - What’s the date for deploying the European force in Chad and the Central African Republic, keeping in mind that the Irish defense minister is now talking about January at the earliest. If there were to be a delay, what would be the reason?

We hope that the EUFOR CHAD/DRC force will deploy as quickly as possible so as to protect the civilian population. We’re continuing to have all the necessary contacts with our partners, in liaison with General Nash, so this is the case.

(…)

IRAN NUCLEAR ISSUE

Q - What’s the current position of the six powers involved in the Iran nuclear issue after the meeting in Paris the day before yesterday?

The meeting of political directors of the E3 + 3 (at which the Russian director, who was delayed in Canada by bad weather, was represented), was a follow-up to the September 28 ministerial meeting in New York. It confirmed the convergence of our analyses with regard to Mr. ElBaradei’s report and noted the absence of opening on Iran’s part at the London meeting between Mr. Jalili and Mr. Solana whose representative briefed the meeting.

A consensus was achieved on working on elements of a new resolution of binding measures with regard to Iran for presentation in the UN Security Council in the next few weeks.

Q - Is a ministerial or other meeting scheduled to prepare for the new resolution? What are the points of difference between the six powers?

No new ministerial meeting has been scheduled for the time being. Talks are continuing among the capitals.

(…)

RUSSIA

We have taken note of the initial results of the December 2 elections for the State Duma which appear to give a large majority to the United Russia party led by President Vladimir Putin

We’ve noted the allegations of irregularities concerning the voting even though we’re not in a position to evaluate their impact on the election results.

We hope that the Russian authorities fully investigate these allegations.

LEBANON

Q - Is the amendment to the Lebanese constitution to have the head of the army elected president compatible with the terms of resolution 1559 demanding respect for the constitution?

The procedure for revision is written into the Lebanese constitution. The decision to take this step is a sovereign Lebanese decision according to the forms laid down in the constitution./.

Embassy of France, December 3, 2007