Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, November 5, 2007)

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


PAKISTAN

I will read the communiqué issued by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs on Saturday, November 3:

“France expresses its concern in the wake of the proclamation of the state of emergency in Pakistan.

“It calls for the return to the regular operation of institutions and maintenance of the rule of law.

“It hopes that dialogue between all the political forces in Pakistan can guarantee stability and democracy in this great country, partner and friend.”

(…)

TURKEY/IRAQ/TERRORISM

France welcomes yesterday’s release of eight Turkish soldiers held hostage by the PKK. As Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner told his Turkish counterpart Saturday on the sidelines of the enlarged conference of Iraq’s neighbors in Istanbul, France stands in solidarity with Turkey’s efforts in the fight against the PKK. It is unacceptable for northern Iraq to be used as a rear base by this terrorist movement.

We support the continuation of the consultations that have started between Ankara, Washington and Baghdad on this issue with a view to finding political and diplomatic solutions to the present crisis. We continue to consider that an operation by the Turkish army beyond the border would only add to the instability of an already very unsettled region.

ALGERIA/CIVILIAN GRAVES

France is actively pursuing the implementation of the plan of action and cooperation regarding French civilian graves in Algeria. The plan has three aspects: maintenance, renovation and, when renovation is no longer possible, the regrouping of graves.

In this context a Foreign and European Affairs Ministry decree of October 9, 2007, published in the Journal Officiel of November 2, 2007, provides for the regrouping of 22 cemeteries located in four wilayas (provinces) of western Algeria. It completes the first such decree concerning the regrouping of French civilian graves issued December 7, 2004. This second decree attests to the continued efforts being made by the state which is paying most of the cost of implementing the plan, nearly 1,400,000 euros from 2003 to date.

Two of the regroupings, that of the large cemetery at Oran, Tamashouet, and that at Relizane will concern only part of these sites and will be done on the spot.

The reopening of the French Consulate General in Oran on September 2, 2007, will make it easier to proceed with the regroupings in western Algeria which are complex operations, especially at the administrative level.

Like the first decree, the one published on November 2, 2007, gives families four months to locate the graves of their deceased in the cemeteries affected by the regroupings and, if need be, to inform the French consul general in Oran, whose consular area covers the provinces, that they wish to transfer the mortal remains of their deceased to France, at their own expense.

(…)

KOSOVO

Q - When President Nicolas Sarkozy visits the United States, will he discuss Kosovo with his American counterpart?

The question will undoubtedly be addressed.

VENEZUELA/FRANCE

Q - Is it definite that Hugo Chavez is coming to Paris on November 20?

President Chavez’s visit was announced by the Office of the President on Friday.

Q - Mr. Chavez announced that FARC delegates had arrived to negotiate a humanitarian agreement, and that he would also meet with a French delegate. Can you tell us the identity of the French envoy? When and where will the talks take place and who will be participating? Can you tell us more about the “indirect proof” that Ingrid Betancourt is alive?

As concerns your first two questions, we prefer to maintain the utmost discretion. With regard to your last question, several converging testimonies allow us to speak of “indirect proof” but we are still waiting for indisputable material proof that she is alive.

MOROCCO/SPAIN

Q - Morocco recalled its ambassador to Madrid to protest King Juan Carlos’ visit to Ceuta and Melilla, two cities which Rabat considers “occupied” and to be part of its national territory. Is the visit inopportune or legitimate for Paris? What is France’s position?

The matter concerns two sovereign friends of France. It is up to them to continue their dialogue./.

Embassy of France, November 5, 2007