Daily Press Briefing
Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
(Paris, June 4, 2007)
[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]
I will read a statement made by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner:
‘I have learned of press agency reports according to which the Iranian President talks about “the destruction of the Israeli regime.”
‘If those remarks were indeed made, they are unacceptable. I utterly condemn them.
‘For France, Israel's right to exist, which has been endorsed by a decision of the United Nations General Assembly, cannot be disputed.
‘The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli-Lebanese relations cannot serve as a pretext for calling into question Israel's fundamental right to exist.
‘Such remarks are incompatible with the dialogue between cultures and civilizations to which we are committed and with Iran's aspiration to play a regional role of primary importance.’
Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner will receive Rodolphe Adada, former foreign minister of the Republic of the Congo, who was recently appointed jointly by the UN secretary-general and the African Union Commission president to head the UN/AU hybrid force which will be deployed in Darfur.
The meeting comes at a time when the UN and African Union are on the verge of finalizing the precise characteristics of the operation which will constitute the third phase of the plan to strengthen the international presence in Darfur.
The minister will recall France’s support for the UN efforts in Darfur and its attachment to Sudan’s agreement quickly to the complete deployment of this operation which will take over from the African peace-keeping mission in Sudan (AMIS) already on the ground.
The meeting will also afford an opportunity to take stock of the deployment of the 3,000 UN personnel scheduled in the UN enhanced support package for the African force (phase 2 which has already been agreed to by Khartoum) and the current efforts to revive the political process between the government and Sudanese rebel forces.
Lastly the minister will discuss with Mr. Adada options on which France is working with countries in the region, its European partners and members of the G8 and the Security Council to support the international mobilization in Darfur and in the region, particularly to improve the security and humanitarian situation of the population there.
France, which pays close attention to the fate of Oriental Christians, is deeply shocked at the assassination of a priest and three deacons after a service which had just been celebrated in Mosul on June 3, 2007. It offers the victims’ families and the Chaldean community of Iraq its most heartfelt condolences.
The closeness of the ties which unite our country to the Oriental churches and communities is long-standing. These communities contribute to the dialogue of cultures in the Middle East.
France calls on all Iraqis to unite against violence and to promote the values of tolerance and concord. All the communities must find their place in a democratic and peaceful Iraq which guarantees everyone the exercise of civil liberties and freedom of religion.
A French delegation led by the humanitarian action delegate at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and including representatives from the Ministry for Ecology and Sustainable Development and Town and Country Planning, the Ministry of the Interior, Overseas France and Local Authorities, the French Association for Natural Disaster Prevention and the French Red Cross, will take part in the first session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva from June 5-7.
This international meeting, organized by the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, chaired by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, follows up the Kobe conference in January 2005 on disaster prevention and the Bonn conference on early warning in March 2006.
Pursuant to a resolution in the last UN General Assembly, the Global Platform succeeds the special inter-institutional team for disaster-prevention. It constitutes a mechanism for exchanges and coordination open to all UN member countries and dedicated to the prevention of disasters whether natural, industrial or health-related.
The purpose of the Geneva meeting is to get the international community to give greater consideration to disaster risk-prevention and accelerate the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, adopted at the Kobe conference in January 2005.
It constitutes another opportunity to promote disaster-prevention and reduction-policies at the global level. This collective approach is a result of seeing an unprecedented increase in vulnerability and uncertainties linked in particular to climate change.
Q - The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) deems the emergence of a viable Palestinian state impossible in the present state of affairs, casting doubt on the possibility of a two-state solution. What’s your reaction?
We have condemned over the past few weeks the breaking of the cease fire and the deterioration in the security situation. In addition, as you know, the international community is determined to reinforce the Palestinian institutions. It is up to the international community to intercede without weakness with the Israelis and the Palestinians so that the fundamental elements of a future settlement of the conflict based on two viable states co-existing in peace and security are preserved.
The establishment of a viable Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel is the only way to establish a just and lasting peace.
Q - What’s your reaction to Vladimir Putin’s statements about the US missile shield?
We know Russia’s concerns about the bilateral plan being pursued by the US, Poland and the Czech Republic.
I would remind you that we’re talking about bilateral projects to which France is not a party and which do not involve NATO. So they must be addressed primarily in the context of bilateral discussions but it is also useful, given their implications, for them to be discussed at NATO and in the NATO-Russia Council.
Considering President Putin’s statements, in-depth discussions still appear to be necessary to dispel the worries that may have been expressed. The US project, as it has been presented to us, does not appear to have an impact on the equilibrium between Russia and the US.
The US has begun in-depth dialogue with Russia on this question, and we understand that they intend to continue this dialogue.
The proliferation of ballistic missiles is a very important issue, especially in the Middle East. The UN Security Council has adopted resolutions dealing specifically with this question.
Q - General Michel Aoun has been received at the Foreign Ministry several times for short meetings. Could you tell us what was discussed, particularly at the last meeting?
Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Koucnhner, called away by other obligations, had to cut short his meeting with General Aoun last Monday and wanted to continue the meeting on June 1.
At both meetings the minister and General Aoun discussed the situation in the Palestinian camps and, following the adoption of resolution 1757, the conditions for a resumption of inter-Lebanese dialogue.
Q - After the violence at the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian camp in southern Lebanon, is France proposing to assist the Lebanese army as it did at Nahr el-Bared in the north of the country? Are the French authorities worried about violence spreading to other Palestinian camps?
We are concerned at the continuing clashes in the Nahr al-Bared camp and the violence over the last two days in the Ain al-Hilweh camp which led to the deaths of two soldiers in the Lebanese army. We support the efforts of the Lebanese army to extend its authority to all of the national territory.
We have repeatedly expressed our concern at the humanitarian situation prevailing in the camps and called on the Lebanese authorities to do everything possible so that the population of the camps is spared, from a humanitarian point of view.
Q - What’s your reaction to the EU decision, announced in Berlin on Friday, June 1, to resume negotiations on closer ties with Serbia?
We took note of the decision by the European Commission on Friday, to resume negotiations shortly on a stabilization and association agreement.
For our part we are satisfied that the commitments of the new Serb government made this resumption possible.
In our view, this signal must promote Belgrade’s cooperation with the ICTY--we remain strongly committed to such cooperation which will remain a key element in deepening relations between the European Union and Serbia. The French government reiterates its full support for the action of the tribunal and Ms. Del Ponte in the search or war criminals./.
Embassy of France, June 4, 2007