Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, July 11, 2007)

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


IMF

I will read the communiqué which Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner issued on July 10:

“I welcome the unanimous selection by the 27 European Union member states of Dominique Strauss-Khan as candidate to be director general of the International Monetary Fund.

“A former French minister for the economy and finance and well-known academic, Dominique Strauss-Kahn impressed people with his competence, negotiating abilities and international reputation. It goes without saying that he would be an excellent director-general. I hope that the members of the board will decide in his favor. For my part I will make every effort to support him at all times.”

ALLONS EN FRANCE

Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Secretary Rama Yade is meeting today with158 young people from around the world who are here under a promotional program that offers training in French, “Allons en France.”

This action, initiated in 1998 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offers the best students in French a stay in France so they can discover aspects of French culture and contribute, through exchanges and meetings, to the affirmation of their Francophone identity.

The 158 prizewinners for 2007 are aged between 16 and 20, and come from about 50 countries. They were selected from among 40,000 participants in a competition organized by the cooperation and cultural action departments in French embassies.

Ms Yade will recall one of the priorities of French foreign policy set by President Sarkozy: to promote freedoms and human rights in the world.

UNITAID

The fifth board meeting of the International Drug Purchase Facility, UNITAID, was held on July 9 and 10 in Geneva. Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French representative, presided.

The board noted progress in UNITAID’s actions on the ground, in particular the arrival of the first drugs against malaria in West Africa and the first second-line retroviral drugs. A new program to combat tuberculosis was also adopted for the 2007-2008 period.

The next UNITAID board meeting will be on October 9.

IRAQ

We welcome the release yesterday of Hannelore Krause, a German national held hostage for 155 days in Iraq. We share the joy of her family and the German authorities.

We take this opportunity to call for the release of all hostages, Iraqi and others, still held in Iraq and in particular the release of Ms Krause’s son, a dual national of Iraq and Germany.

LIBYA

Q - What’s your reaction to the confirmation of the death penalty on the Bulgarian nurses by the Libyan Supreme Court? After the compensation agreement announced yesterday, are you hoping to see a measure of clemency follows the decision?

We regret the Supreme Court decision which confirmed the death sentence on the Bulgarian nurses and the doctor. We understand that this is not the end of the judicial procedure. We are waiting for the decision by the High Council of Justice which is to meet on Monday.

We noted with interest the announcement made by the Qaddafi Foundation that a financial agreement has been reached with the families of the contaminated children.

We are maintaining contact with the various people concerned in order to reach a rapid solution and we hope that this will happen in the next few days.

Our position, like that of the international community, particularly the European Union, is dictated by the two focuses of our solidarity: the contaminated children and their families on one hand, and the nurses and the doctor on the other whose release we hope to see as soon as possible.

LEBANON

Q - Following the latest developments in the situation, can you confirm that Hezbollah and its allies are to take part in the all-Lebanese meeting at Celle Saint-Cloud?

All the parties that were invited accepted our invitation, and we expect them on Saturday.

Q - According to the Lebanese press, Jean-Claude Cousseran is in Teheran. Is he there as part of the preparations for the informal Lebanese meeting? Is he going to other capitals as he did before it was confirmed that the meeting would be held?

Yes, Mr. Cousseran’s visit is in the context of preparations for the Celle Saint-cloud meeting.

We’ve no knowledge of other visits.

Q - What’s your reaction to the article in the Syrian journal Tcherine suggesting that France is showing partiality in Lebanon ahead of the Lebanese gathering?

My sole response is to recall that we have invited all the participants in the Lebanese national dialogue.

Q - A presidential statement on the progress report on UNSCR 1701 is going to be discussed at the UN. What is your position with regard to the methods of monitoring flows of weapons into Lebanon, specifically at the Syrian-Lebanese border, and the application of article 15 of 1701?

The UN secretary-general’s recent report on the implementation of SCR 1701 noted increasing information about the flow of illegal weapons, especially across the Syrian –Lebanese border. Neighboring states, particularly Syria, have a special responsibility in this matter. It is up to them to take all the necessary measures to prevent arms smuggling on their territory. We support the recommendations made by the independent border evaluation mission which went to Lebanon in June at the request of the UN secretary-general.

Q - Do you have the final list of participants in the informal meeting at Celle Saint-Cloud?

We will not be giving out the names of the participants before the start of the meeting given its informal character.

Q - Since we can’t cover the meeting, can you give the press the program (starting time, closing time)? Will there be an opening speech?

The meeting is to start on July 14 at 3:30 p.m. and conclude on July 16 with a press conference in the early morning. Mr. Kouchner will introduce the debates.

Q - Who will preside at the sessions? Will there be written minutes?

Mr. Kouchner will preside. There will be no written minutes.

Q - Is there a program for the delegations so they can watch the July 14 parade? Or bilateral meetings with French officials?

There are no other activities planned besides the meeting itself. As I’ve already said, this type of meeting provides an opportunity for informal meetings that aren’t scheduled in advance.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - Former prime minister Haniyeh has told Le Monde that he’s against deploying an international force. Does that challenge the idea of such a force mentioned in the letter to Tony Blair from the 10 European ministers, co-signed by Mr. Kouchner?

The letter from the 10 EU minister sets two conditions for deploying such a force: that it accompanies a peace plan without being a substitute for it and that is based on an inter-Palestinian agreement.

It should be borne in mind that several Israeli and Palestinian officials had themselves mentioned this idea.

Q - According to the open letter to Tony Blair signed by the 10 EU ministers, including Mr. Kouchner, Saudi Arabia and Egypt should be encouraged to establish dialogue between Fatah and Hamas. How are you going to put this idea into practice?

We support all initiatives to this end from our partners in the Arab world, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt with which we have a regular dialogue./.

Embassy of France, July 11, 2007