Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, June 6, 2007)

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


(…)

CHAD/DARFUR

Q - The Chadian prime minister doesn’t see the need for a humanitarian corridor in Chad to get aid to Darfur as France has suggested. What’s your reaction?

France and the international community want to see a comprehensive solution to the crisis in Darfur. Such a solution has to be political in nature and take into consideration the security needs and the situation of the refugees and displaced persons.

It is in this spirit that France has proposed to hold a meeting of the enlarged contact group in Paris at the end of June so as to inject new momentum into the political efforts and move forward with the deployment of the UN/AU hybrid force.

In this perspective we would like to have a close dialogue with the countries directly concerned. Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner will make a visit to Chad on June 9 and 10, in particular to meet with President Déby. His visit will give him an opportunity to assess the situation of the refugees and displaced persons in eastern Chad and ways of helping them.

COLOMBIA

Q - Are you worried about a new stumbling block in a humanitarian exchange in Colombia after Rodrigo Granda’s comments that it is up the FARC leadership to say whether he can be a mediator? Astrid Betancourt has said for her part that his role as a mediator was recognized by the FARC.

I would remind you that France, Spain and Switzerland emphasized yesterday in a joint declaration the importance of Mr. Granda’s release by the Colombian president. His release may encourage the humanitarian exchange we want and for which we are making every effort.

France, along with its Swiss and Spanish partners, encouraged the FARC to respond to this initiative constructively by making a gesture.

Q - Rodrigo Granda also said that President Uribe must accept the demilitarized zone in Colombia before any agreement. Your reaction?

In general we support all initiatives likely to encourage a humanitarian exchange as I’ve just said.

LEBANON

Q - With Mr. D’Alema visiting Syria and Lebanon, are France and Italy on the same wavelength with regard to a solution in Lebanon? What are the points of difference if there are any?

France and Italy are conferring closely on the Lebanese question.

The two countries make up the two leading contingents in UNIFIL and maintain close cooperation in this framework.

Italy and France also co-sponsored resolution 1757 on the international tribunal for Lebanon. Now that this stage has been reached, it is important that the various Lebanese parties resume dialogue.

Also, as Mr. D’Alema said yesterday, we expect concrete steps from Syria.

Q - When he was in Beirut, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner offered to host a meeting in France for a Lebanese dialogue to resolve the crisis and find a solution to the formation of the government. What’s happening with the arrangements and what do you see for the meeting?

During his visit to Beirut, the minister said he was willing to encourage, when the time came, an informal meeting between representatives of Lebanese political forces and civil society if they wanted him to.

SERBIA

Q - Do you share Ms del Ponte’s optimism about Ratko Mladic being arrested soon?

We have had occasion to welcome the arrest of Zdravko Tolimir.

We quite obviously wish to see this arrest followed by the arrest of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic and their transfer to The Hague as soon as possible.

We invite Belgrade to pursue every effort to this end.

We reiterate our full support to Carla del Ponte and to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in carrying out their mission.

RUSSIA

Q - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has just accused the West of “acting in the spirit of the Cold War.” What’s your interpretation of such statements?

We have taken note of the various statements by Russian representatives in the last few days.

As you know, President Putin and President Sarkozy are having a meeting on the sidelines of the G8 meeting in Heiligendamm. They already had a telephone conversation on May 21. President Sarkozy has said that he wanted to have frank, trustful and regular dialogue with his Russian counterpart.

The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss questions of mutual interest.

SYRIA

Q - Europe decided to act with one voice by delegating to Mr. Solana the task of talking to the Syrians. Are there any new European factors or are the Italians talking on behalf of the Europeans or with their consent?

It is essential that the Europeans convey the same messages to Syria. As I mentioned in my earlier response, what is important in Mr. D’Alema’s visit to Damascus is that he has asked the Syrian authorities for concrete steps with respect to Lebanon./.

Embassy of France, June 6, 2007