Daily Press Briefing
Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
(Paris, August 9, 2007)
[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]
Q - Yesterday the Colombian foreign minister said he opposed a humanitarian agreement with the FARC, which had rejected President Uribe’s proposals. What’s your reaction and what’s the status of the efforts to release the hostages?
France is mobilized to obtain the release of the hostages in Colombia, including our compatriot Ingrid Betancourt, as part of a humanitarian exchange. We invite the Colombian authorities and the FARC to resume the threads of their dialogue and note that France, Spain and Switzerland stand ready to help promote the implementation of a humanitarian solution.
Q - Can you confirm that the foreign minister will be visiting Beirut again on August 23? Will his trip be followed by a new inter-Lebanese meeting in Paris?
After the Celle Saint-Cloud meeting and the foreign minister’s recent visit to Beirut, France will continue to pursue its efforts and its activities. But I don’t have any information for you with regard to a calendar.
Q - The Israeli government is demanding a change in UNIFIL’s mandate in southern Lebanon. What’s your position?
It’s not up to me to comment on any of the possible positions you mention.
As you know, UNIFIL’s mandate will expire on August 31. The Lebanese government has asked to extend that mandate for another year, with no changes. The UN secretary-general conveyed a letter to the president of the Security Council a few days ago relating to the renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate, which he had mentioned in his June report on the implementation of SCR 1701. The Security Council will be holding discussions on this topic soon.
Q - On Wednesday evening, Georgia announced its intention to go to the UN Security Council following the launch of a missile against its territory, it believes, by Russia. Does France, as a permanent member of the Council, support this?
France expresses its concern over the increased tensions between Russia and Georgia. We therefore call for restraint. An investigation to establish the facts, led by the OSCE, is currently under way. We will pay close attention to the results. Georgia has brought this matter before the UN Security Council. We will take part in consultations on the subject.
Q - Does France consider, as the White House has just said, that Paris and Washington are on the “verge of a new era in relations”? What are the issues France and the U.S. are working on most closely together?
France and the United States closely share views on a number of subjects, whether they be terrorism, Lebanon, Iran or Afghanistan, to mention but a few. As for the statement you mention, I would simply say that France and the United States have been linked for more than two centuries by History./.
Embassy of France, August 9, 2007