Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, July 12, 2007)

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


PHILIPPINES

We were shocked to learn of the sinking of the ferry MV Blue Water in the Philippines. In these sad circumstances, France expresses its sincere condolences and compassion to the victims’ families and friends, and to the Philippine people and authorities.

LEBANON

Q - Can you tell us more about Mr. Cousseran’s visit to Teheran (for how long, his agenda, who he saw, etc.)? Should it be seen as a sign of difficulties over Hezbollah delegates coming to Paris this weekend? Can you give us the list of countries Mr. Cousseran’s visited since the start of his mission to prepare the all-Lebanese conference?

Ambassador Cousseran was in Teheran on July 10 and 11. He talked with various officials, including Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki. The purpose of the visit, as we said before, is to review progress in preparing for the meeting at Celle Saint-Cloud.

With regard to Hezbollah, let me remind you it has confirmed it will take part in the meeting this weekend.

At the request of Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner, Mr. Cousseran went to Lebanon twice, to Egypt to meet with the Egyptian authorities and Arab League secretary-general, to Morocco to meet with the Saudi foreign minister and local authorities, and to Iran and the United States.

Q - What points were addressed by the minister to frame the meeting?

As we said yesterday, the minister will introduce the proceedings by providing a framework for the discussions, and it’s not my place to reveal them as we want the confidential character of the meeting to be maintained.

Q - Will there be a follow-up committee?

It will be left up to the Lebanese participants alone to decide if they want to set up such a mechanism.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - The UN has reportedly asked Israel to leave Shebaa Farms on the Lebanese border, considering for the first time that this section of territory belonged to Lebanon and not Syria. Do you have more information about the request? What’s your reaction?

The latest elements we have on the question are contained in the UN secretary-general’s June report on the implementation of resolution 1701 which refers to good progress in the work by the UN cartographer, and we welcome that. As Mr. Ban Ki-moon has said, the cartographer’s mission is solely to detail the cartographical contours of the area known as Shebaa Farms.

We understand also that the UN secretary-general intends, on the basis of this work, to begin a diplomatic process to consult the parties concerned (Lebanon, Syria, Israel), including on the question of the territorial definition of the area, with the objective of settling this important question in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1701. We support this process and call on all the parties concerned to cooperate with the UN secretary-general’s special envoy.

We hope that the cartographer, once he’s on the spot, as he said he will be, will be able to meet with all the officials who can help in his mission.

The French position has not changed: we encourage the UN secretary-general to continue his work on the implementation of the interim solution proposed by the Lebanese government in its seven-point plan, and we await with the utmost interest its recommendations./.

Embassy of France, July 12, 2007