Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, December 12, 2007)

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


LEBANON

I will read the statement the minister of foreign and European affairs issued this morning:

“France condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack which claimed the life this morning of a high-ranking member of the Lebanese army, François al-Hajj, and that of several Lebanese citizens. It offers its condolences to the victims’ families and its solidarity with the army, government and people of Lebanon at this difficult time. France wishes to see full light shed on this act of terrorism.

“This cowardly attack, committed against one of the principal leaders of the Lebanese military establishment, the guarantor of the country’s security, which has the respect of all Lebanese, is part of an obvious wish to destabilize [Lebanon] and demands a unanimous reaction of revulsion.

“The only response to this wish to destabilize must be for all Lebanese political leaders to show responsibility by proceeding without delay to the election of the new president and to keep the country functioning so as to ensure its security, freedom and sovereignty.

“France, which has been doing everything possible for several months to stop the drifting, calls on the international community to exercise the greatest possible influence to this end. It remains more than ever ready to help and stands shoulder to shoulder with the Lebanese people to assist it in overcoming this crisis.”

(…)

Q - What impact will the attack have on the search for a new president?

As the minister says in his statement, it makes it more necessary than ever to designate a new Lebanese president without delay. Everyone needs to redouble efforts to make this happen.

Q - Do you think the international commission of inquiry for Lebanon should have the task of investigating General François al-Hajj’s assassination?

It will be up to the UN Security Council to decide, if the Lebanese government asks it, to authorize the international commission of inquiry to provide technical assistance to the Lebanese authorities in the attack as it has done in the past. For our part we’re in favor of it.

GLOBAL DONOR PLATFORM FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT

(PARIS, DECEMBER 12-13)

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs is hosting in Paris on Wednesday and Thursday, December 12 and 12, the annual seminar of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, a network which aims to strengthen coordination, communication and the sharing of experiences among its members.

The 60 or so participants will be received on December 12 by State Secretary for Cooperation and Francophony Jean-Marie Bockel.

The seminar will be attended by high-level European and North American development officials working with bilateral cooperation agencies and international organizations (UN Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agriculture Development, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, World Bank), involved in rural development aid.

Participants will examine ways of improving the effectiveness of agricultural development aid in countries in the South, in the context of the global increase in raw materials prices.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - Do you have any reaction to the Israeli incursions in the occupied territories where at least six Palestinians have been killed and several people injured on both sides? What do you think of the timing of this action just before the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks?

In the wake of the Annapolis meeting and with just days to the Paris conference, France condemns all acts of violence and calls on all the parties to exercise the utmost restraint. Only the opening of a real political perspective of two states will bring peace and security.

IRAQ

Q - There were three major attacks in Iraq today leaving at least 60 people dead. Do you share the assessment of certain parties, in Iraq and outside the country, that the security situation is improving?

Like you we see the statistics tending to show an overall drop in the number of victims. But these attacks, which we condemn, reveal the extent to which the security situation remains disturbing in Iraq.

ALGERIA

Q - Is the group that claimed the attacks in Algiers yesterday the same which recently threatened France and if so do you expect to take part in the inquiry alongside the Algerians and increase security measures in France?

We remain totally vigilant in Algeria. Our ambassador immediately went to the three schools with French children located near the place of the attacks. He also convened the French community security committee and is continuing to follow the situation with all the Embassy sections.

Regarding security measures on French territory, I refer you to the Ministry of the Interior.

SUDAN

Q - Do you plan to expel Abed Wahid el-Nour if he persists in refusing to take part in the peace negotiations Sudan? If so, can we have details?

We will not fail to draw the consequences if Abdulwahid el-Nour persists in refusing to take part in the peace negotiations.

FRANCE/LIBYA

Q - Does the foreign minister consider that human rights in Libya was sufficiently discussed during Colonel Qaddafi’s visit? Will he comment again on relations between France and Libya?

I refer you to the statements the minister of foreign and European affairs made yesterday in the National Assembly on this matter. The minister will certainly comment again on relations between France and Libya if asked./.

Embassy of France, December 13, 2007