Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, January 10, 2007)

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


Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and European Affairs Minister Delegate Catherine Colonna will have a meeting with European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson on Thursday, January 11.

They will discuss the situation of the trade talks at the WTO.


Catherine Colonna, European Affairs Minister Delegate and Secretary-General for French-German Cooperation, will meet tomorrow on Thursday, January 11, with Klaus Wowereit, Governing Mayor of Berlin and minister plenipotentiary of the Lander for culture and education in French-German relations. Mr. Wowereit succeeded Peter Muller, Minister-President of the Land of Sarre, in this post on January 1, 2007.

Ms Colonna and Mr. Wowereit will discuss the main European issues and French-German relations, especially cultural and educational exchanges.


European Affairs Minister Delegate Catherine Colonna will be in Cebu, in the Philippines, on Friday and Saturday, January 12-13, for the 12th summit of heads of state and government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). She will represent France in depositing France’s instrument of accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in southeast Asia. France’s accession to the TAC reflects the special importance it gives to southeast Asia. ASEAN constitutes one of the pillars of regional equilibrium and can contribute decisively to the continent’s stability.

During her visit Ms Colonna is expected to have bilateral meetings with a number of ministers attending the ASEAN meeting;


Q - Could you give us the approximate amount of Iraqi assets frozen in France and tell us the background to the freezing and whether it was unilateral or multilateral?

Iraqi financial assets were frozen in accordance with resolution 1483 of May 22, 2003 and represent several million euros. We are in contact with the Iraqi authorities on this question for a more accurate evaluation of the assets that could be unfrozen and transferred.


Q - The UN secretary-general, the European Commission and several European countries in an individual capacity have criticized the American intervention in Somalia. Do you also think that these raids may exacerbate the tensions in this region?

The American air operations on Somali territory are a source of concern for us because they complicate the situation in Somalia and can increase tensions which are already high in this country.

We deplore the civilian victims caused by these air strikes.

The Horn of Africa is a fragile region which must be stabilized. In Somalia we support the regional and international initiatives aimed at reducing tensions and fostering national reconciliation, thereby enabling institutions to resume functioning.



Q - What subjects are due to be discussed when Mr. Chirac and Mr. Abe meet on January 12? What is France planning specifically for the 150th anniversary of French-Japanese friendship in 2008? Is France ready to submit concrete proposals on the North Korean nuclear dossier and on the question of the Japanese abductees in that country?

I refer you to the Elysée with regard to the Japanese prime minister’s meeting with President Chirac.

Next year, 2008, will indeed see the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and France. Discussions have been going on since the fall to prepare the celebration which is to take place in France and Japan throughout 2008, and which we want to make special.

With regard to North Korea, France supports the initiatives of the five representatives of the international community in the talks on the nuclear issue. The objective remains the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea and the implementation of the joint declaration of September 19, 2005. France, together with its European Union partners, has also taken specific measures in the context of resolution 1718 which was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on October 14, 2006.

Concerning the kidnapped Japanese, France shares and fully supports Japan’s concerns. I would remind you also that the UN General Assembly adopted a convention on forced disappearances which will be signed in Paris on February 6.

Q - Does France still have reservations about enlarging NATO’s strategic partnerships unlike the United States? Will there be a cooperation agreement on “poles of competitiveness” between the two countries’ regions? Will France ask Japan to abolish the death penalty?

At the NATO summit in Riga, on November 28 and 29, 2006, the Alliance decided to enhance its capacity to cooperate with the partners or any other state which wished to support allied crisis-management operations.

The discussions are to focus on the current or envisaged theaters of operations. From this perspective we welcome Japan’s logistic support to ISAF in Afghanistan.

With regard to cooperation between poles of competitiveness in France and Japan, such cooperation is regularly discussed between the relevant ministries which share the wish to deepen these relations.

Lastly, as you know, France’s position in favor of the universal abolition of the death penalty is constant. The 3rd World Congress Against the Death Penalty, organized by NGOs under the high patronage of President Chirac, will be held in Paris on February 1- 2./.

Embassy of France, January 10, 2007