Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, December 7, 2007)

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


(…)

GENERAL AFFAIRS/EXTERNAL RELATIONS COUNCIL

The general affairs/external relations council will meet in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday, December 10 and 11. Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner and European Affairs Secretary Jean-Pierre Jouyet will represent France.

Following on their work last month, ministers will be preparing the European Council on December 14 on the basis of the draft conclusions prepared by the Portuguese presidency.

As it does each December, the European Commission will brief ministers on the process of enlargement. It will also present the communication it recently adopted on European neighborhood policy.

The Council will then look at the economic partnership agreements in the wake of the EU-Africa summit.

With regard to the common foreign and security policy, ministers will discuss the main international issues at this time: Burma, Iran, the situation in Sudan and Chad, Somalia, Afghanistan, the western Balkans, Kosovo in particular. The situation in the Middle East will also be addressed--Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will be present for the discussion—in the run-up to the international donors’ conference for the Palestinian Territories in Paris on December 17.

On the sidelines of the Council, there will be a partnership council meeting with Russia, an association council with Jordan and a meeting of the EU-Ukraine troika.

IRAN/EXECUTION OF MR. MOLOUDZADEH

France, which reaffirms its constant commitment to the abolition of the death penalty, condemns the execution on December 5 of Mr. Makwan Mouloudzadeh in spite of the many interventions by the European Union who was condemned to death fro a crime le reportedly committed at the age of 13.

France regrets that Iran did not respect its international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both categorically banning the execution of minors or persons condemned for crimes committed when they were minors.

We urge Iran to end the executions of minors for which it holds the sad world record, and to prohibit capital punishment in general.

ADOPTION OF BEST PRACTICES IN THE ILLICIT AIR TRANSPORT OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS UNDER THE WASSENAAR ARRANGEMENT

At their annual plenary in Vienna on December 6, the 40 participating states of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies adopted a document on best practices to prevent destabilizing transfers of small arms and light weapons by air.

The text, initially proposed by France, has been the subject of negotiations throughout 2007 in the context of the evaluation of the Wassenaar Arrangement every four years.

France welcomes the adoption of this document which responds to one of its major concerns with respect to preventing destabilizing accumulations of conventional weapons. It is attested that these weapons often reach regions in conflict, or even under embargo, through being diverted or through concealment of their nature or real destination when transported by air. These weapons fuel conflicts and cause many victims in these countries among both the civilian population and military forces, including those deployed in the context of international peacekeeping operations.

The G8 summit in Saint Petersburg in 2006 called for the relevant international and regional organizations to recommend measures to combat the phenomenon. This call was renewed in 2007 at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm.

The “best practices” adopted by the Wassenaar Arrangement constitute the first response to this appeal and provide states with the means to prevent transfers of destabilizing weapons. The measures proposed concern the provisions that can be taken before, during and after the export of small arms and light weapons, and the national and international consultations to address the circumvention of controls.

France hopes that the international and regional organizations concerned by the implementation of such measures take advantage of the best practices adopted by the Wassenaar Arrangement.

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The Wassenaar Arrangement groups the 26 member states of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain, the UK), Argentina, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.

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EGYPT/FRANCE

Q - Can you tell us about the French-Egyptian strategic dialogue being held on Monday? Who will represent each of the two countries? What issues will be addressed?

The next session of French-Egyptian strategic dialogue, to be held in Paris on December 10 and 11, is part of our regular and close bilateral relations with our Egyptian partners. This dialogue, launched in 1996, brings together representatives of the two foreign ministries once a year. The last session was held in Cairo on March 8 and 9, 2006.

This new session will be opened by the Foreign Ministry’s secretary-general. The Egyptian delegation will be led by the Egyptian foreign minister’s chief of staff.

During the consultations, participants will address questions relating to the Middle East and Africa which are of concern to both countries, relations between Egypt and the European Union and the proposed Mediterranean Union. Multilateral questions of common interest will also be addressed.

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IRAN

Q - Is France still in favor of stepping up sanctions against Teheran in spite of the new assessment of the Iranian nuclear threat by American intelligence?

As President Sarkozy said yesterday after meeting with the German chancellor, the Iranian nuclear threat still exists. As Iran is not respecting its international obligations, we are continuing, with our partners, to consider additional binding measures./.

Embassy of France, December 7, 2007