Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, December 14, 2007)

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


DONORS’ CONFERENCE FOR THE PALESTINIAN STATE

Q - Can you tell us why the title has been changed from Donors’ Conference for the Palestinian Authority to Donors’ Conference for the Palestinian State?

I’ve already answered this question but I’m going to thank you for asking it again as it gives me the opportunity to repeat that it is at Bernard Kouchner’s initiative that the conference is being called that. It is to clearly underscore our objective, which is also that of all the participants in the conference: to contribute to the establishment of Palestinian state. You’re right to bring this out. It makes it clear that the conference is aiming to provide financial, and also political, support to the Palestinian state.

Q - Does this mean that starting December 17 France is going to use the appellation “Palestinian State” instead of Palestinian Authority or Palestinian Territories?

Let’s wait for the results of the conference. As you’ve clearly understood, we’re talking here about a goal.

Q - Can you confirm there’s to be a dinner Sunday evening on the sidelines of the conference and tell us who will be there?

Yes, and I can give you details. The day before the conference, there’s an informal dinner at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized and presided by the minister, Bernard Kouchner. Those invited to the dinner are the Palestinians—the president and prime minister; Tzipi Livni; the co-chairs—as you know, in addition to the French there are three co-chairs, Tony Blair, representing the Quartet; the Norwegian minister and Benita Ferrero-Waldner for the European Commission. Also invited are the members of the Quartet: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; for the US, Condoleezza Rice but she’s due to arrive later in the evening; Mr. Lavrov for Russia; Luis Amado for the presidency of the EU Council; and the secretary-general, the high representative for the CFSP, Mr. Solana, whose presence still has to be confirmed.

Q - Will there be a 5 + 1 meeting on Iran on the sidelines of the conference?

So far as I know, no meeting is scheduled. Now for details about the day. At 9:30 a.m. the conference is opened by the president then come speeches by participants. A luncheon will be hosted by the foreign minister. The afternoon proceedings should conclude round about 6 or 6:15 p.m. with a press conference given by the minister and co-chairs, to which you’re all invited.

Q - I would like to have details about the participants. I wanted to know in particular if you’ve had a response from Syria?

In the case of Syria, it’s not final. Syria will be represented, but I can’t tell you who will represent it. At the present time, I’m told 67 states have responded. In the case of the international institutions that will be there, there’s the UN secretary-general, the European Union, the international financial institutions –IMF, EIB, Islamic Development Bank and also the agencies on the list you’ve been given.

Q - The plan that was indicated yesterday by Mr. Dusquenes, namely Mr. Fayyad’s plan, would be accepted for three years. In the event there were elections in Palestine and Mr. Fayyad were not prime minister, would the plan still stand? Second, at yesterday’s briefing, it was announced that there’ll be a list of 30,000 loyalist officials, people who would receive salaries without working, especially in the Palestinian security services . The figure could even be a lot higher, and the annoyance in Ramallah is growing. Do you have any information about this?

I would remind you that you’re talking about an “off-the-record” briefing yesterday. We’re not talking figures for now. We’re waiting for the results of the conference. The basis on which we’re working is the three-year program prepared by the Palestinian Authority. Decisions will be taken at the donors’ conference based on this program.

Q - And assuming Mr. Fayyad were no longer prime minister?

I’m not looking at things for the moment from a hypothetical perspective. We’re working on the basis of the Palestinian Authority’s program. The program isn’t linked to one man but to the legitimate Palestinian authority.

Q - Can you tell us if all the Gulf states have sent positive responses?

Yes.

Q - Other than Syria are there still countries that haven’t yet confirmed they’re attending?

No, even though we don’t always know the exact level of representation. We’ll let you have the exact list of participants as soon as possible.

Q - Was Iran invited to the conference on Monday?

Iran was not invited. May I remind you that we invited the same participants as were at Annapolis, and Iran wasn’t among them.

Q - Wasn’t it an opportunity to invite it?

It wasn’t the decision taken.

Q - Some delegations are sending two ministers. Is it correct to say the foreign minister and finance minister?

In the chart I have here, I see rather foreign and development ministers, but there are also finance ministers. The letters of invitation were sent by the foreign minister, and each country is at liberty to chose who will represent it. In most cases they are ministers for foreign affairs or development.

Q - Is France going to unveil a roadmap or something, a document on which ministers can focus on or is everyone coming with his own idea?

The purpose of the donors’ conference is to hear what contributions everyone can make. It is likely there will be a concluding text which will reaffirm the spirit of the conference.

Q - Will the participants have access to or a copy of the Palestinian reform plan?

Of course, since it’s the basis for the proceedings.

(…)

LEBANON

Q - Could the political deadlock and the difficulty in getting lawmakers together for an election in Lebanon prompt you to send Mr Cousseran to Beirut again?

We’re having ongoing contacts with all the parties concerned through our ambassador to Lebanon. For the rest, I refer you to what the minister said. The current situation in Lebanon makes it more urgent than ever to elect a president of Lebanon, and we hope that the December 17 deadline will be taken up constructively so as to permit the election of a president with broad support.

Q - Can you tell us a bit about the contacts the ambassador is having?

The ambassador, as always, is seeing all the parties concerned./.

Embassy of France, December 15, 2007