Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, October 11, 2007)

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


LEBANON

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner will receive Beirut lawmaker Saad Hariri, president of the Future Movement, today at 7:15 p.m. Bernard Kouchner will take this opportunity to discuss with Saad Hariri, in the context of France’s ongoing efforts to encourage dialogue between the parties, the situation in Lebanon and our commitment to stand by the side of all Lebanese.

(…)

BELARUS

We have learned with concern of the arrests of organizers of the “European March” scheduled to be held in Minsk on October 14.

We condemn these actions by the Belarusian authorities which are continuing in spite of repeated warnings from the European Union and its member states.

NETHERLANDS/FRANCE

French and Dutch officials conferred at a high-level meeting on drugs held in Paris on October 10. The meeting was sought by both countries to complement the European approach through bilateral cooperation between countries confronted with comparable problems.

French-Dutch cooperation in judicial matters, police, customs and public health has developed in recent years and produced good results. In view of the seriousness of the drug problem, the two delegations reaffirmed their wish to intensify cooperation to prevent drug use and combat smuggling more effectively.

Participating in the meeting were the French and Dutch ministries for the interior, justice, finance and health, and on the French side the inter-ministerial task force against drugs and addiction (MILDT). The meeting was co-chaired by the director general for European cooperation at the Dutch Foreign Ministry and the deputy secretary-general at the French Foreign Ministry.

EU/AFRICA SUMMIT

Q - The Portuguese EU presidency announced Wednesday that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will attend the EU-Africa summit if “such is Africa’s wish.” Knowing that such a decision would lead to the absence of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is France supporting it?

We support the efforts of the Portuguese presidency which wishes to see all the African Union member states invited. It is up to the presidency to organize this important summit which we want to be a success.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - What’s your reaction to the Palestinian Authority under Mr. Abbas rejecting Hamas’ attempts at reconciliation? Do you think talks between the two factions are desirable before the peace conference and should the Palestinians present a united front at this conference?

We have taken note of Mr. Haniyeh’s statements but we have no knowledge of a reaction by the Palestinian Authority. France reaffirms its commitment to the easing of tensions, Palestinian unity and the indissociable link between Gaza and the West Bank. It reaffirms its support to the Palestinian Authority and Mr. Fayyad’s government. As far as Hamas is concerned, it knows under what conditions it can normalize relations with the international community./.

Embassy of France, October 11, 2007