Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, December 5, 2007)

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



The 30th international conference of the Red Cross was held in Geneva from November 26-30 and attended by 324 delegations made up of 172 national societies and 152 states, plus the International Federation and International Committee of the Red Cross.

Among the matters addressed was the implementation of the memorandum of agreement between Israel’s Magen David Adom and the Palestinian Red Crescent. A resolution supported by France and adopted by the conference on November 30 endorsed the mutual recognition of the two emblems and lifted the blocks to the movement of Red Crescent ambulances in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

France welcomes the support given by the Conference to this resolution and is pleased at the progress made on this question in which the delays had affected the application of humanitarian law in the region. The progress will encourage the mission of the two societies, each holder of the two emblems, which is to protect civilians, the injured and prisoners of the two parties in the conflict.



Q - Nicolas Sarkozy’s congratulations for Vladimir Putin’s party have been criticized. The reaction of the Foreign Ministry was quite different. Do you have any comment?

We’ve already had occasion to make a statement on this question, as did the EU. I refer you to these statements.


Q - Israel has called for bids for the construction of over 300 houses in a settlement area in East Jerusalem. Do you think this is compatible with the commitments announced at the Annapolis conference?

We repeat that settlement activity is one of the principal obstacles to peace and that the parties renew their commitment to respect the roadmap at Annapolis.

In the wake of Annapolis and in the few days before the Paris conference where the aim is to establish the economic bases for a viable Palestinian state, France invites the Israeli authorities to refrain from any unilateral action which might prejudge the final status of the Palestinian Territories and jeopardize the current process.


Q - Has Mr. Sarkozy agreed to negotiate directly with the FARC for the release of Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages as Alvaro Uribe is proposing?

I refer you to the Elysée.

Q - Is the minister aware of a possible visit to Paris by Mr. Restrepo, High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia? Also, what incentive could France offer for the release of the hostages at this time?

The minister has been informed of the fact that Mr. Restrepo is proposing to come to Paris.

With regard to your second question, France is determined to make every possible effort to secure the release of the hostages held by the FARC.


Q - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that the report by US intelligence services is a factor that will be taken into account in the negotiations on an eventual third resolution on sanctions at the UN. Do you agree and what effect might this report have on the debate?

As I said yesterday, we don’t comment on intelligence reports. As I also said, our position on the Iran nuclear question remains unchanged./.

Embassy of France, December 5, 2007