Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, November 7, 2007)

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


AFGHANISTAN

I will read the communiqué issued by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs last night:

“France learned with horror of the attack in northern Afghanistan today which targeted a delegation from the Afghan Parliament, claiming the lives of several members and causing many victims in the population, among them children.

“It strongly condemns this intolerable attack on the Afghan national representatives and, through them, on the values of democracy.

“France offers its condolences to the families and loved ones of this heinous attack and to the Afghan president, government and lawmakers, the authorities of the city of Pol-e-Khomri and Baghlan province.

“In these tragic circumstances, it wishes to assure the Afghan people of its solidarity in the struggle for a free and peaceful Afghanistan.”

VISIT BY MR. KOUCHNER TO BURKINA FASO AND THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (November 9-10)

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner will travel to Burkina Faso on November 9. The purpose of the visit is to reaffirm France’s support for Burkina Faso’s regional action and further the ties of friendship and cooperation between our two countries as Burkina Faso has been elected a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the years 2008-2009.

The minister will meet with President Blaise Compaoré, Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation Minister Djibrill Bassolé and with the president of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), Souamaila Cisse.

The minister will then go on to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in order to discuss the situation in the eastern part of the country and the region as a whole. He will have talks with President Kabila and the speakers of the National Assembly and Senate. He will also meet with officials of the UN mission in the DRC.

He will then go on to Goma, the capital of North-Kivu, where the continuing clashes between the Congolese army and illegal armed groups has led to a serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation. He will also meet with local authorities and humanitarian actors, and visit a hospital where women victims of sexual violence are treated, and a camp for the displaced.

LES BELLES ETRANGERES LITERARY EVENT (NOVEMBER 12 – 24)

“Les Belles Etrangères” is an event organized by the national book center in liaison with our embassy cultural services.

First held in 1987, it aims to introduce contemporary foreign literature by inviting a group of authors from the same country or linguistic area for public meetings and readings throughout France, in partnership with bookshops, libraries, universities and cultural associations. This year, “les Belles Etrangères” is featuring, from November 12 to 24, 12 Lebanese authors—eight Arabic-speakers, and four French-speakers: Zeina Abirached, Mohamed Abi Samra, Abbas Beydoun, Rachid El-Daif, Hassan Daoud, Tamirace Fakhoury, Joumana Haddad, Imane Humaydane-Younes, Elias Khoury, Charif Majdalani, Alawiya Sobh and Yasmina Traboulsi.

The literary scene in Lebanon is particularly rich. The country has over 300 publishing houses and many quality bookshops as well as a very diversified press. Beirut was also recently designated World Book Capital 2009 by UNESCO.

CHAD/ZOE’S ARK

Q - Paris would prefer the French detained in N’djamena to be tried in France though it emphasizes that the decision rests with the Chadian judicial authorities. Does that mean that France is in the end ready to accept a strictly judicial Chadian decision? Or do you think that any decision on the transfer of the prisoners is also necessarily political?

The matter has been referred to the Chadian and French judicial authorities, and they’re cooperating.

(…)

PAKISTAN

Q - Is there anything new about Pakistan? Is President Musharraf to be abandoned as Nawaz Sharif wants?

We are very concerned at the increasing number of arrests throughout Pakistan. We underscore the importance we attach to respect for the rule of law and public freedoms. We therefore ask that the state of emergency be lifted and legislative elections held according to the planned timetable.

We continue to follow the development of the situation in close liaison with our European Union partners. In this regard I call your attention to the statement by the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, issued yesterday./.

GEORGIA

We are following the situation in Georgia with close attention. We call for restraint on the part of all Georgian political forces. They alone are in a position to resolve the current tensions. We encourage them to engage in dialogue so as to preserve the democratic process currently under way in this country./.

Embassy of France, November 7, 2007