Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, April 16, 2007)

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


AFGHANISTAN

I will read the statement made by Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy on Saturday, April 14:

‘I have been informed of the existence of a video on which our two compatriots and the three Afghans accompanying them appear. We are analysing the pictures, and I shall make no further comment on them.

‘We are quite obviously staying in touch with the "Terre d'enfance" [A World for Our Children] humanitarian organization for which these five people work, and with their families.

‘We continue to make every effort, in Paris and on the ground in Afghanistan, to obtain the release of the members of this group. More than ever, our objective is to bring them back safe and sound.’

Q - France asked the Afghan authorities Thursday for their support in securing the release of the two French nationals, but on Sunday the Afghan government ruled out any bargaining with the Taliban over these hostages. What’s your reaction? The French hostages say in the video released Saturday that they are going to be beheaded. What is the result of your analyses of the video?

With regard to your first point, we have been in touch with the Afghan authorities since the beginning of this matter and we’re maintaining close contact with them.

We don’t wish to make any comment on your second point.

UNITED NATIONS

Minister Delegate for Cooperation, Development and Francophony Brigitte Girardin will take part on Monday, April 16, in the debate on reforming the UN’s operational activities, organized by the president of the General Assembly; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be present. The debate follows the secretary-general’s presentation of his report on the recommendations of the high-level panel, in November 2006, on the coherence of UN action in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and environmental protection.

France hopes that the panel’s proposals will serve as a basis for deepening the process of reforming UN operational activities. Enhancing the Organization's efficiency in this area is key to ensuring that the world body, given its universality and guarantee of multilateralism, preserves its unique role and actively contributes to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

TURKEY

We were saddened to learn of the tragic road accident that occurred in Turkey on the morning of April 14 in the region of Aksaray. The accident took the lives of 32 people, including many children, and injured 30 others. It has caused an outpouring of emotion in Turkey and beyond.

We offer our sincere condolences to the victims’ families and loved ones, and offer our deepest sympathy to the Turkish government.

SUDAN/DARFUR

Q - Sudan has signed an agreement with the UN and the African Union defining the respective role of the three parties in Darfur. What’s your reaction?

At this point we have no detailed information about the agreement you’re referring to.

The consultations in Addis Ababa on April 9 between the UN, African Union and the Sudanese government enabled things to move forward--bearing in mind that one point still has to be clarified with the Sudanese authorities.

The informal meeting of the Security Council, which will be held in New York this afternoon in the presence of the UN secretary-general and the president of the African Union Commission, will be an opportunity to review the progress towards the deployment of phase two of the UN reinforcement to AMIS. May I remind you that Minister Delegate for Cooperation, Development and Francophony Brigitte Girardin will represent France at the meeting.

IRAQ

Q - The movement led by Shiiite leader Sadr has announced it would pull out of the Iraqi government of Nuri al-Maliki. What’s your reaction? Are you worried that Mr. Maliki’s government will break up?

It’s not my place to comment on Moqtada al Sadr’s decision.

Speaking in general, we have said repeatedly that an inclusive political process involving all Iraqis is essential to stop the spiral of violence./.

Embassy of France, April 16, 2007