Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, October 12, 2007)

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


(…)

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

I will read a statement from the minister:

“I offer my warmest congratulations to Mr. Al Gore and all the members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) who were awarded the Nobel Prize for peace today.

“The fight against climate change is the urgent issue of our time. The responsibility of the entire international community is involved. It concerns the destiny of mankind threatened by a catastrophe on a global scale.

“It is the price of inaction which Al Gore denounced in his film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” By offering a scientific evaluation of the measures to be taken to combat global warming and its irreversibility, the IPCC reports provide the outline for action. The Nobel Prize for peace formally rewards today this mobilization for an ecological commitment commensurate with the challenges we face.

“France is engaged in this combat in the European Union and in international organizations so as to give the Kyoto Protocol a future and shape a new global environmental governance. There will be no peace without mankind’s control over his ecological future and without more environmentally friendly development. That is the message of the Noble Prize jury, and I fully subscribe to it.”

SUDAN

I will read a statement by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner:

“I want to express France’s concerns about the current difficulties being encountered in the implementation of the North-South peace agreement. The suspension by the MPLS of its participation in the national unity government is the latest sign of this.

“I urge the two parties signatories to the peace agreement to re-establish a constructive dialogue to find ways to a negotiated solution which is the only way to overcome the current stalemate. This is a decisive moment for the future of Sudan given that the transition period provided for in the peace agreement is approaching mid-term and the negotiations on Darfur, which are due to start in Syrte, will have to formulate a political solution closely linked to the North-South peace agreement.

“I would like the international community to support the MPLS and National Congress party in their efforts to this end. That is why I proposed at the ministerial meeting on Darfur in New York on September 21, holding an international ministerial conference on relaunching the North-South peace agreement. I repeat that France is willing to support the realization of this proposal, with the signatories to the peace agreement and our international partners, specifically IGAD and the group of friends of IGAD.

ALBANIA/FRANCE

Albanian Foreign Minister Lulzim Basha met with Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner on Friday, October 12.

The two ministers discussed the necessary reforms for closer ties between the EU and Albania, especially in fighting corruption and organized crime, and Albania’s application to join NATO. With regard to Kosovo, Mr. Kouchner recalled the importance France gives to European unity.

The two ministers agreed to step up bilateral relations, especially in the economic domain.

KOUCHNER MEETS WITH JODY WILLIAMS

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner met today with Jody Williams, Nobel peace prizewinner and ambassador extraordinary for the campaign to ban landmines.

Mr. Kouchner took the opportunity of this meeting, which was particularly warm and friendly, to welcome Ms Williams’s efforts. He paid tribute to her determination and personal involvement and to the successes of her organization.

Ms Williams emphasized the mobilization of civil society on cluster bombs. The minister confirmed France’s total commitment on this question. He went over our unflagging efforts to obtain, in the framework of the Oslo process and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, a legally binding instrument banning the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, the use of which entails unacceptable consequences for civilians throughout the world.

During their meeting, the minister discussed several current events, including the Darfur crisis and the situation in Myanmar.

MYANMAR/SECURITY COUNCIL

We are satisfied with yesterday’s unanimous adoption in the Security Council of a presidential statement on Myanmar. It is the first official text by the Security Council on this question and marks an important step in the international attention being paid to the situation in Myanmar.

In this unanimous declaration from the Council, the international community sends the junta in Myanmar a message of unity and vigilance with respect to the development of the situation.

We will continue to follow with the utmost attention the mission of the UN secretary-general’s special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, who has said he would like to return to the region as soon as possible.

FLOODING IN AFRICA/FRENCH AID

Since July 2007 torrential rains have caused flooding from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea, affecting 22 countries in West, central and east Africa. Over 350 people have died and 1.5 million are in need of assistance. There is fear of a cholera outbreak, especially in east Africa.

Based on an initial survey, French aid is as follows:

1) The Licorne force sent two helicopters from Abidjan to Togo; these delivered 31 metric tons of emergency supplies over three days to residents in the eastern part of the country cut off from the world by the rise in the River Mono.

Licorne carried out an initial similar mission in Togo in September, delivering teams of assessors and a dozen tons of humanitarian supplies to the northwest which has also been affected.

At the request of the Ghanaian government, two Licorne helicopters were provided to transport teams (UN, European Commission) to evaluate the situation.

2) The interministerial committee on food aid has also decided to make the following contributions for victims of the flooding:

- 500,000 euros for Ghana, paid to the World Food Program (WFP) to assist 75,000 persons, including 10,000 pregnant women and children under five;

- 700,000 euros for Sudan allocated to the WFP in response to flooding in the east and south of the country;

- 400,000 euros for Chad for displaced people in the east who have been affected by the flooding;

- 676,00 euros via the WFP and NGO, Première Urgence, for people in eastern Uganda. In addition there is a contribution to UNDP of 382,000 euros for the flooding, for a total of over one million euros.

3) Lastly, in Burkina Faso 50,000 euros have been made available to the local Red Cross for the purchase of mosquito nets.

All in all, French aid amounts to over 2.5 million euros to which must be added the cost of the operations carried out by the Licorne force.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - Do you have any reaction today to the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to hold talks with Hamas?

France supports the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas. We encourage everything that contributes to easing tensions and to the unity of the Palestinian people.

Q - The Italian foreign minister said in New Delhi that the US-proposed peace conference was in a difficult phase and he cited the difficulties in preparing the conference and the absence of a set date. Do you share this view?

France supports the proposal for an international conference. It is essential to continue to prepare the conference so that it constitutes a success for the peace process.

LEBANON

Q - Can you confirm a telephone conversation yesterday between Mr. Kouchner and his Italian counterpart? If so, do you have details? Did they talk again about a date for their joint visit to Lebanon?

The two ministers did talk yesterday on the phone as they do regularly. They discussed the upcoming visit to Lebanon which they plan to make together with their Spanish counterpart. They’ll be discussing it again in Luxembourg on Monday on the sidelines of the general affairs council.

Q - Is the Salon du Livre Francophone, which was due to be held in Beirut, still on for the same dates?

It was decided in view of the material difficulties in organizing the event to postpone the Salon du Livre Francophone in Beirut, with the agreement of the Lebanese authorities and other partners involved, to February 8 - 17, 2008./.

Embassy of France, October 15, 2007