Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, June 11, 2007)

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


WORLD BANK

Robert Zoellick, the candidate for president of the World Bank, who is in Paris, will be received this evening by President Sarkozy.

He will have talks tomorrow with Prime Minister François Fillon, Minister for the Economy, Finance and Employment Jean-Louis Borloo and Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner who is to see him at 8:30 a.m.

Q - Will there be a press briefing after Tuesday’s meeting with Mr. Zoellick?

You’ll be given details regarding this during the day.

(…)

EUROMED ZONE/UNIVERSITY COOPERATION

The 4th Euro-Mediterranean university forum, mock multilateral negotiations on “Cultural Interactions and Conflict-Resolution in the Euromed Zone,” and an international colloquium on the same subject will be held in Alexandria from June 11 - 15, reflecting the dynamism of academic cooperation in this region.

The 4th Euro-Mediterranean university forum will convene, on June 11 – 12, European and Mediterranean universities for the purpose of formulating specific proposals for higher education and research in this geographic area.

The mock multilateral negotiations will be held at the Library of Alexandria on June 14 - 15. It is being organized with the support of the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, and the inter-university network CADMOS (Center for Analysis of Disputes and their Modes of Settlement) which is attached to the University of Paris-Sud XI.

Taking part are 81 students of 27 different nationalities, including 45 from the master’s program in diplomacy and strategic studies at Paris-Sud. They will adopt a charter which will contribute to the exchange of ideas on government policies.

The CADMOS colloquium on June 16 has attracted high-level speakers from Europe, the Maghreb and the Mashrek to debate the prospects emerging from the mock negotiations.

These events will precede the first ministerial Euro-Mediterranean conference on higher education and scientific research in Cairo on June 18, at which France will be represented.

CHAD/DARFUR/SUDAN

Q - According to Sudan’s foreign minister, the international conference on Darfur which Paris has proposed convening on June 25 is “not opportune.” What’s your reaction? Could you tell us about Mr. Kouchner’s meetings in Sudan and in Chad?

Before we get to the ministerial meeting on June 25, let me answer your question about the talks the minister for foreign and European affairs has had over the past few days.

Mr. Kouchner was in Chad on June 9 - 10. The visit afforded him an opportunity to evaluate more precisely the current humanitarian situation in the eastern part of the country both with respect to the refugees from Darfur and internally displaced Chad nationals.

The minister had talks with President Idriss Deby Itno about the conditions for deploying an international force for humanitarian purposes in eastern Chad, which France wishes to see and which is being discussed between the Chad authorities and the United Nations. He mentioned a number of possibilities which will be studied in a Franco-Chadian framework, in conjunction with France’s partners in the European Union and at the United Nations. These possibilities aim specifically to secure the environment of the refugee camps and places where displaced people are now living.

On the humanitarian front, at the request of the World Food Program, France will help deliver by air food supplies to meet the emergency before the rainy season from Abeche to the Goz Beida region where several tens of thousands of refugees and displaced people are living. The first flights will start towards the middle of this week.

In addition, at the Chad foreign minister’s request, France will deliver by air emergency relief supplies for Goz Beida.

France is also ready to help in the delivery of medicines and medical equipment at the request of the World Health Organization.

With regard to securing areas where the refugees and displaced population are located and to facilitate their return, President Idriss Deby Itno and Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner decided to set up a Franco-Chadian working group which, in consultation with the European Union and the United Nations, is to prepare a proposal for a mechanism involving Chad, France, the EU and the UN ahead of the ministerial meeting in Paris on June 25.

After his visit to Chad, the foreign and European affairs minister flew on to Sudan.

He was received by his Sudanese counterpart Lam Akol, and by President Omar al-Bashir. These talks focused specifically on the deployment of the UN/AU hybrid force in Darfur, the urgency of reviving the political process and the need to improve the humanitarian situation.

With regard to the ministerial meeting on June 25, as you know, President Sarkozy had wanted France to take an initiative to mobilize the entire international community in the quest for a solution to the crisis.

That is why the Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner will convene at ministerial level the international contact group on Sudan, enlarged to include several other key actors such as China, South Africa and Egypt.

So far, the reactions of our partners are more favorable than not. It isn't my place to comment on the Sudanese minister’s reaction which seems to focus rather on the date chosen. In any case, the meetings with the Sudanese authorities should enable us to explain our initiative aimed at giving an additional boost to initiatives that have already been taken by the international community to relaunch the peace negotiations.

KOSOVO

Q - President Bush has just said that an “endless dialogue” on Kosovo is to be avoided. Your comment?

President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke in Heiligendamm on June 7 of the inevitability of Kosovo’s independence, based on Martti Ahtisaari’s plan for independence and supervised by the international community, with important guarantees for the Serb community.

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner for his part has said that the time is fast nearing when the various parties would have to meet their responsibilities.

We think that a consensus solution on Kosovo in the Security Council would be in the interest of all the parties concerned. President Sarkozy has sought to favor dialogue and negotiation, noting that Kosovo would have nothing to gain from independence that was disputed.

We are going to continue to work in coming days, particularly with our American, Russian and European partners at the UN and in the capitals.

As the president has said, it is time to turn this painful page in the history of the former Yugoslavia.

Q - Can you confirm there’s a meeting in Paris tomorrow on Kosovo among political directors of the US, Britain, Germany, France and Italy? Is Russia really not going to attend? What’s the purpose of the meeting? Is France preparing another initiative after President Sarkozy’s proposal to extend the negotiations at the G8 summit was rejected?

Even though it’s not customary to announce meetings between high-level officials, still I can confirm that there is such a meeting tomorrow. It is part of the ongoing efforts being made in the international community to reach a solution on the future status of Kosovo.

With regard to your last question I refer you to my previous answer.

Q - Are we talking about senior officials from the countries mentioned in the question? And is Russia really staying away from the meeting?

I confirm the list of countries attending the meeting.

Q - President Bush said again he supports Kosovo’s independence and is threatening to act without Russia's agreement on the matter. What is France’s position concerning these statements? Is France still in favor of extending the negotiations so as to find an agreement that suits all the parties?

I refer you to my previous answers.

(…)

IRAN/NUCLEAR ISSUE

Q - IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday he is “increasingly disturbed” at the impasse in which the Six in his view find themselves with respect to Iran on the nuclear issue. He said the confrontation must be “defused.” What’s your reaction?

As we’ve said repeatedly, we favor a diplomatic solution and the principle of double suspension.

Mr. Solana recently presented again on behalf of the Six a whole package of proposals to Mr. Larijani. We expect the Iranian authorities to give a favorable response to these proposals. If they were to continue in their refusal to suspend nuclear enrichment activities, there would be no solution for the international community other than to strengthen the sanctions mechanism.

As the IAEA director said in his last report, it is desirable for the Iranian authorities to significantly improve their cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency./.

Embassy of France, June 11, 2007