Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, October 9, 2007)

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


I will read the statement I issued last night:

“The minister of Foreign and European affairs met Monday afternoon, October 8, with Carla Del Ponte.

“Bernard Kouchner paid tribute to Ms Del Ponte’s action during her eight years as chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He commended in particular her tireless efforts to see the demands of international criminal justice prevail.

“The minister reaffirmed to Ms Del Ponte France’s support for the ICTY and assured her of our country’s continued full cooperation so that the Tribunal can carry out its mission.”

The minister will meet Ms Del Ponte again on October 15 when she speaks at the general affairs/external relations council.

Q - Was the meeting between Ms Del Ponte and Mr. Kouchner scheduled some time ago?

It was announced Friday.

Q - What was the purpose for the visit?

We have regular contacts with Ms Del Ponte, and on Monday, October 15, she will be presenting a report on cooperation with Serbia. Ms Del Ponte is due to step down in principle at the end of the year. The idea was to listen to Ms Del Ponte and reaffirm our full support for her action and that of the ICTY.



Q - Ms Yade’s meetings in Washington focused on three countries—Iran, Syria and Cuba. What were the criteria for choosing these three countries? It’s the same definition of Mr. Bush’s axis of evil.

That’s your analysis, but I don’t share it. The choice of countries certainly wasn’t linked to Mr. Bush’s positions.

Q - Did they discuss Guantanamo?

I’ve no further details on these meetings but we will forward your questions to Ms Yade.

Q - Is it possible to ask for a meeting with Ms Yade when she’s back so she can explain why she chose these three countries?

Of course. We’ll tell her that some of you would like to meet to talk with her.


Q - (…)The Lebanese media have revealed the visit by the Italian, French and Spanish foreign ministers for October 19… Do you have any more details?

I’m going to disappoint you but I don’t have any more details. The meeting of the three ministers was decided on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. It was October 1. The ministers discussed together the whole range of regional questions and the possibility of a joint visit to Lebanon. Discussions are continuing, and I hope to be able to confirm it very soon.

Q - But the Spanish ambassador to Lebanon confirmed that the meeting would definitely take place on October 19.

Let’s wait for things to be clear and definite. We have to decide on the exact format, the meetings, the eventual trips and we’ll then be able to give you the exact details.

Q - Can you tell us the purpose of the visit if it takes place?

I can’t tell you anything more at this time. The ministers thought it was a good idea to go to Lebanon and they probably will go. Once we have the exact details, we will pass them on to you.

Q - Would they be going only to Lebanon.?

I repeat, I can tell you nothing more today.

Q - Does Mr. Kouchner intend to see Saad Hariri?

Yes. The minister is due to meet with him on the 11th in the late afternoon.

Q - Is he going to the Elysée as well?

I suggest you ask the Elysée.


Q - You’ve been following all the meetings between Mr. Olmert and Mr. Abbas. What is France’s exact position with regard to the international conference being prepared for after these meetings?

We note with interest that the talks between Mr. Olmert and Mr. Abbas are continuing. This is positive. The French position is known from you: from the start we have supported the American initiative for an international conference. The minister, Bernard Kouchner, in the letter he wrote to Tony Blair with his EU Mediterranean colleagues, had himself proposed an international conference. We hope the conference is a success.

For now, we’re letting Mr. Olmert and Mr. Abbas work together on the conference content and the agenda. As we’ve said, the conference must address the final status of the territories and have a broad format involving all the parties concerned. Our position hasn’t changed.

We are leaving it to the Americans—it’s their initiative—to continue preparing the conference, and we’re waiting with considerable interest to see what comes out of the talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Q - Do you know about the change in US ideas regarding the future Lebanese president? According to certain sources, President Bush is willing to accept General Michel Sleimane as the future president of Lebanon.

I’ve no information about this.

Q - Has France received an invitation to the peace conference? Some 50 countries are reportedly being invited?

So far as I know, France has not received an invitation.

Q - And you have no explanation?

To our knowledge, invitations have not been officially sent out.

Q - In spite of the progress you cite, Mr. Olmert is beginning to lay down conditions for the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state, for example, a security infrastructure with which Israelis could feel comfortable. At the same time when President Abbas was in France, he asked for military aid, in the form of equipment and training? What’s happening with this and is France ready to provide such aid?

I’ve not heard of any request for military aid from Mr. Abbas. As for Israel, what you say isn’t new. It has always been clear that progress towards a Palestinian state required Israel to obtain what it wished with respect to security.


Q - What’s happening about Myanmar? What is France doing? Have French diplomats been in contact with Total at some point or other to try to discuss possible sanctions?

I can confirm that there have been contacts with Total. For the rest we are working in the forums where the issue is being discussed, at the UN and European Union. At the UN, the Security Council is working on a draft resolution based on a text that we circulated at the end of last week with the British and Americans.

At the European Union, talks are taking place at the technical level, and the issue will be on the agenda at the general affairs council on Monday, October 15.

Q - To go back to the contacts with Total—it was to talk about what President Sarkozy wants?

I can confirm that there have been contacts but I’m not able to give you any further details.



Q - Where do matters stand with regard to what the minister said about Iran?

We are continuing to work on the lines indicated by the minister: negotiations and sanctions. And we are working on these in various forums, at the UN and in the EU. There is nothing new.

Q - Do you have any reaction to the American allegations, which are becoming sharper, about Iranian interference in southern Iraq and in the training of militias?

We encourage everything that helps stability in the region and we urge all the parties to show restraint. Whatever endangers the stability of the region must cease.

Q - The minister went a bit further than that in his speech to the diplomatic press a few days ago. He accused Iran of financing and arming Sunni and Shiite militias in Iraq and of being involved in almost everything that was going wrong in the country. I’d like to know if you also take these positions which are actually rather close to the American criticism of Iranian policy in Iraq?

I have nothing to add to what the minister said.


Q - You said yesterday that you regretted Abdulwahid el-Nour’s decision not to join the inter-Sudanese political process. But have you asked Mr. el-Nour or do you intend to ask him to leave France as reported in some papers?

For the time being we are doing everything we can to persuade him to attend the talks. Mr. Kouchner is making every effort to this end.


Q - What is happening about the development of forces in Chad and the Central African Republic?

The work is continuing. Steps are being pursued in the capitals, and we are asking everyone to make a contribution. We will be briefing you regularly on how things go. The minister is certain to discuss the matter with his European partners in Luxembourg on October 15./.

Embassy of France, October 9, 2007