Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, April 4, 2007)

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


SOLOMON ISLANDS

I will read a statement by Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy:

“While the evaluation of the situation and the requisite help for the tsunami-stricken people is continuing, France has already dispatched an aircraft carrying emergency relief supplies.

“The CASA-type aircraft left Noumea at 3:30 p.m. local time Wednesday, April 4, carrying two and a half metric tons of equipment and food supplies, including a water treatment unit, a ton of rice, tarpaulins, blankets and clothes. It landed in Honiara in the evening. At the request of the Solomon Islands authorities, the aircraft will make several round trips between Munda and Gizo which are closest to the affected areas.

“France is ready to increase its aid to the stricken population as needed.

“This French aid is being provided in the context of the FRANZ agreement between France, Australia and New Zealand, whereby interventions are coordinated between the three countries in the event of a natural disaster in the region.

“It is being coordinated locally by the French ambassador to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and the honorary consul of France in Honiara, in liaison with the Solomon Islands authorities.”

CUBA

Q - What is your reaction to the agreement signed yesterday between Spain and Cuba? What is the French position regarding the suspension of European sanctions which is to be examined by the 27 in June?

We have taken note of the visit to Cuba by Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and the signing of an agreement on a mechanism for political consultations, including a dialogue on human rights.

As you know, the European Union council of ministers is asking for changes in the sphere of human rights in Cuba and the release of political prisoners. It will have occasion to return to this question in June.

LEBANON

Q - The majority in Lebanon’s Parliament has sent a memorandum and a petition to the UN secretary-general asking for an alternative procedure to establish an international tribunal to try suspects in the attacks in Lebanon. What’s your reaction, and your position?

We have taken note of this memorandum handed by 70 legislators to UN secretary-general representative Geir Pedersen to be forwarded to the UN secretary-general.

As far as the French authorities are concerned, I would like to remind you of our constant position in favor of establishing an international tribunal as quickly as possible.

The president emphasized at the press conference he gave in Berlin on March 25 that establishing the tribunal was a matter of urgency.

Q - Can you confirm that France is preparing a draft presidential report at the UN, which requires a Council majority, in lieu of a resolution on the application of 1701?

Consultations on the UN secretary-general’s report on the implementation of resolution 1701 will begin in New York on Thursday, April 5.

As you know, the unity of the international community on the Lebanese question sends a strong signal to the various protagonists and shows its determination and commitment to seeing a sovereign and independent Lebanon. A text adopted by consensus, as a presidential statement would be, is therefore our preference.

(…)

SYRIA

Q - Senator and Mayor Philippe Marini (UMP) is currently visiting Syria. He said that the president of the French Red Cross, Jean-François Mattei, was going to visit Damascus to discuss the problem of Iraqi refugees. What role can France take in the refugee problem and how do you view Mr. Marini's visit?

With regard to the issue of Iraqi refugees, I confirm that France will be attending the conference in Geneva that is being organized by the high commissioner for refugees on April 17 and 18, 2007. Let me remind you that we gave a special contribution of 500,000 euros for the HCR’s special program for Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan.

With regard to your second question, we’ve no particular comment on the visit by Senator Marini in his capacity as chair of the upper house’s France-Syria friendship group.

(…)

AFGHANISTAN

Q - Can you confirm the disappearance in southwestern Afghanistan of two French nationals working for the relief agency Terre des Hommes?

We have been contacted by the NGO Terre d’Enfance which has been without news since yesterday morning of two of its volunteers, French nationals, on mission in Afghanistan along with the three Afghans accompanying them. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our embassy in Kabul are following this matter closely in cooperation with the local authorities as well as with the French NGO./.

Embassy of France, April 4, 2007