Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, July 5, 2007)

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


AFGHANISTAN

We are saddened at the announcement of the deaths in Afghanistan yesterday of six Canadian soldiers and their Afghan interpreter.

President Sarkozy immediately offered his condolences to the Governor General of Canada, and the minister his condolences to his Canadian counterpart, requesting that they be conveyed to the victims’ families.

In the letters they sent to their counterparts, the president and the minister paid strong tribute to the Canadian contingent of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and assured them of France’s support and solidarity.

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner also expresses his profound sadness at the number of Afghan civilian victims in recent air strikes.

FRANCE/QUEBEC

Québec Prime Minister Jean Charest will visit France from July 5 - 10, 2007. He will be received by President Sarkozy on July 6.

He will also meet with Prime Minister François Fillon that same day.

A working luncheon will be given in his honor on July 9 by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner.

During his visit Mr. Charest will also meet with Alain Juppé, former prime minister and mayor of Bordeaux, and Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former prime minister, senator from Vienne and president of the French committee planning the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Québec City.

Mr. Charest’s meetings will focus on preparations for Québec City’s 400th anniversary which will be celebrated with a great many events throughout 2008, particularly on the anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s arrival on the site of Québec City on July 3, 2008, and the summit of heads of state of the Francophonie organization which will be held in Québec from October 17 - 19, 2008. Many regions and French cities will be involved in the preparations, specifically the City of Bordeaux, and the regions of Poitou-Charentes, Alsace and Rhone-Alpes. France will offer a gift in the form of upgrading the Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques in Québec.

The implementation of the UNESCO convention on cultural diversity and Francophone issues will also be discussed.

In addition we are thinking together about the modernization of the state. In the technological and scientific sectors the agreements concluded between the French “poles of competitiveness” and the “créneaux d’excellence” in Québec are progressing well. The agreement in 2006 in the biotechnologies sector has been followed by a new pact which has just been signed between the Aerospace Valley of Toulouse and Aéro-Montréal. We shall be intensifying our cooperation on global warming and sustainable development. Lastly we are continuing the exchanges organized by the Franco-Québec youth office.

Mr. Charest was in Paris last February for the Paris Conference on Global Ecological Governance, “Citizens of the Earth.” He also met with the president and prime minister in July 2006.

IRAQ

Q - According to reports in the press, French officers are taking part in the training of Iraqi military personnel in Jordan and Qatar. Can you confirm or deny it or provide details?

France is not training Iraqi military personnel, not in our country or in any country the region. There is no plan to do so..

LEBANON

Q - Do you have more details about the format of the meeting for the Lebanese scheduled to take place on July 14- 17? Why so long (four days)? Will the Lebanese parties meet all together or will there be separate meetings for some of them? Has the list of people coming been finalized?

We will give you the details about the meeting at tomorrow’s press briefing.

MISSILE DEFENSE

Q - What do you think of Russia’s threat to install cruise missiles in Kaliningrad if the Americans don‘t accept Russia’s counter-offer on missile defense?

We have taken note of Mr. Ivanov’s statement and would like to see dialogue continue between Russians and Americans.

IMF

Q - Does France have a preferred candidate to succeed Mr. Rato?

Mr. Rato’s decision doesn’t take effect until October. We shall be conferring with our European partners on the appointment of his successor.

Q - Is there a European agreement on the name of a candidate?

I refer you to my previous answer./.

Embassy of France, July 5, 2007