Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, January 11, 2007)

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


EUROPEAN UNION

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and European Affairs Minister Delegate Catherine Colonna, met in Paris today with European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson with whom they discussed European trade policy and the prospects for the negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The ministers repeated France’s position in favor of an ambitious, comprehensive and balanced agreement on the Doha program, and emphasized the need for the European Union’s main trade partners to act in the same spirit of constructive engagement so the negotiations can succeed. The ministers firmly recalled in this respect that the conditional offer made on October 28, 2005 amounted to a red line and that it exhausted the EU’s margin for negotiation.

The ministers also encouraged the Commission to continue its discussions with the Council on beginning bilateral trade negotiations with certain emerging countries in Asia. They stressed that these negotiations should be the occasion for the European Union to promote the European economic model by ensuring the conditions for fair competition and compliance with social and environmental norms.

IRAQ

I draw your attention to the statement Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy made this morning on Iraq.

"The situation in Iraq is very seriously worsening, every day.

“For us, going beyond the proposals President Bush has just made, we think that the only way Iraq will regain stability, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity is for all its civilian, political and religious components to participate in the life of Iraqi society.

“So it is on the basis of a global approach, a political strategy that Iraq and, going beyond, the whole region will be able to regain their stability."

Q - Nevertheless, on Iraq, do you think that a massive injection of American troops is a way of restoring stability in Iraq and helping that country regain its national unity?

I refer you to the minister's statement, in which he stresses the necessity of a global approach and political strategy to enable Iraq to regain stability and full sovereignty.

FRANCE/MALI

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy will go to Mali on January 16 to take part in the ministerial follow-up meeting to the 23rd summit of African and French heads of state and government. Let me remind you that the summit was held in Bamako in December 2005 and that its main theme was “African youth, its vitality, creativity and aspirations.”

The purpose of the meeting is to review implementation of the guidelines adopted at the last summit and to present the framework for the next summit which will be held in Cannes on February 15 and 16. The central theme will be “Africa and world equilibrium.”

In addition, as chair of the UNITAID board, the minister will visit the pediatric service and pharmacy at the Hospital Gabriel Touré where anti-retroviral drugs are already arriving as part of the first applications of the UNITAID program on the ground.

FRANCE/COTE D’IVOIRE

The Minister Delegate for Cooperation, Development and Francophony, Brigitte Girardin, will attend the meeting of the International Working Group on Côte d’Ivoire in Abidjan on January 12. In accordance with resolution 1721, the meeting will evaluate progress in the implementation of the roadmap entrusted to the prime minister, nearly three months after the UN Security Council adopted the resolution.

The African Union and ECOWAS will for their part undertake an evaluation of the peace process between now and February 1.

During her visit Ms Girardin will have meetings with Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny and the head of state, Laurent Gbagbo, among others.

RWANDA

Q - Can you confirm that Rwanda has asked for Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of the Rwandan president, to be arrested? Can you confirm that France has rejected Ms Habyarimana’s request for asylum made in 2004?

As you know, OFPRA [office for the protection of refugees and stateless people], which makes its rulings independently, has just notified Ms Habyarimana of the rejection of her request for political asylum. I understand that an appeal has been lodged with the Appeals Commission for Refugees.

I’ve not been informed of an official request from the Rwandan authorities for Ms Habyarimana’s arrest.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - Can you confirm there will be a meeting of the Quartet in Paris on the sidelines of the conference on Lebanon?

As France is not part of the Quartet, it is not for me to confirm that such a meeting will be held./.

Embassy of France, January 11, 2007