Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, December 6, 2007)

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


SRI LANKA

France condemns in the strongest terms the attack that took place yesterday in the center of Sri Lanka causing the deaths of 15 or more people. It expresses its complete solidarity with the Sri Lankan people and extends its sincerest condolences to the victims’ loved ones.

France condemns the recourse to violence and repeats that only a negotiated solution can bring a lasting settlement to the conflict which has been tearing Sri Lanka apart for over 30 years.

(…)

FRANCE/MAURITANIA

Cooperation and Francophony Secretary Jean-Marie Bockel had a meeting this morning with Prime Minister Zein Old Zeidane of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

Their meeting focused on bilateral relations and development questions. After welcoming the political and economic reforms that have been started, Mr. Bockel announced an additional financial contribution, bringing to 97.6 million euros French aid in the context of the framework partnership document for 2008-2010. This contribution is in addition to the money announced at the meeting of the advisory group for Mauritania which is being held in Paris from December 4 to 6.

FRENCH REPUBLIC’S HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Rama Yade will solemnly present the French Republic’s human rights prize, “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité,” on December 10 at 4:00 p.m. The ceremony will be held at the Palais des Affaires Etrangères.

Founded in 1988, the prize is awarded every year in complete independence by the National Advisory Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) and rewards human rights defenders around the world for their action on the ground. Previous recipients of the prize include Shirin Ebadi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, writer Taslima Nasreen, the Russian association “Memorial,” Ibrahim Rugova and Cuban human rights defender Elizardo Sanchez.

The 2007 prizewinners were recognized for their action to advance freedom of expression and for their commitment to combating human trafficking, the two themes chosen by the CNCDH this year.

They are:

- Mo Shaping, Li Jingsong, Teng Biao, attorneys for the rights defense movement in China;

- the Free Theater of Minsk, represented by playwright Nikolai Khalezin and journalist Natalya Kolyada, which produces plays in Belarus promoting freedom of expression:

- the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, for its action in furthering freedom of expression in the Mediterranean region;

- - the association “Enfants solidaires d’Afrique et du Monde,” which fights child trafficking in Benin;

- the Maurice Sixto Shelter which combats the domestic slavery of children in Haiti.

SUDAN

Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Secretary Rama Yade welcomes the release of Mubarak al-Fadil in Sudan, leader of the opposition Umma Party for Reform and Renewal. She had brought up his case and that of Ali Mahmoud Hassanein, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, still awaiting trial during her meetings with the Sudanese authorities in Khartoum in October.

Mubarak al-Fadil and Ali Mahmoud Hassanein were detained in mid-July in a matter in which 30 people are still being detained.

ZOE’S ARK

Q - Is it true that the Zoë’s Ark prisoners in N’djamena have gone on a hunger strike? Are they still getting visits from the consulate?

According to our information they are continuing to take food normally. They had another consular visit today, the 61st since October 26. They’ve also had over 40 medical visits since that date.

SERBIA/FRANCE

Q - What was the purpose of yesterday’s meeting between Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac and Gérard Araud, Deputy Secretary-General and head of political and security affairs? What did they talk about?

The Serbian defense minister was in Paris on December 5 to meet with his counterpart, Hervé Morin. At the same time he had a meeting with the director general for political affairs at which they discussed the regional situation in the run-up to December 10 and the Euro-Atlantic perspective for Serbia.

Q - Is France worried about the political and security situation in Serbia and Kosovo deteriorating after December 10, the deadline in the negotiations being brokered by the troika?

The leaders in Belgrade and Pristina have committed themselves to refrain from any action that could jeopardize Kosovo’s security and more generally security in the entire region. We renew our appeal for this commitment to be kept.

CHAD

Have you made progress in the talks with Commander Nash for deploying the European forces in Chad? Have the security conditions been met for the operation to go forward?

We are continuing the discussions with our partners with a view to the General Affairs Council on December 10. The situation in the region makes this operation more necessary than ever./.

Embassy of France, December 6, 2007