Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, April 17, 2007)

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


Q - Do you have any comment about the latest developments concerning Darfur?

France welcomes the Sudanese authorities’ agreement to the UN ‘heavy support package’ for AMIS.

It applauds the perseverance of the UN secretary-general, who took the decisive initiative for direct dialogue with Sudan’s president on the sidelines of the recent Arab League summit, together with the unity and firmness of the international community.

The UN must now begin the deployment of these reinforcements.

France is counting on the Sudanese authorities to support without reservation the various stages of the deployment of assets and personnel provided for under the heavy support package.

France hopes that the continuing consultations with the Sudanese authorities will lead quickly to an agreement on the deployment of the third stage in the plan agreed at Addis Ababa in November.

Q - What commitments did the Sudanese authorities make?

Let me remind you that three phases were agreed. What was confirmed yesterday is the agreement of the Sudanese authorities to phase two, that is, the UN heavy support package to the African force. The heavy package comprises a number of measures--the deployment of about 3,000 additional personnel, police support and also air support.

As you know, one of the important points was Sudan’s acceptance of the deployment of helicopters. Their acceptance was confirmed.

We’d like to see this agreement put into practice and the reinforcements actually deployed.

It’s important not to forget the next stage, the third and last, which is the deployment of the hybrid force per se, that is, the UN/African Union force. At this time we do not have the agreement of the Sudanese authorities for phase three. We need to work on this.

Q - You’re talking about the 20,000 men?

That’s the resolution that was adopted by the Security Council. It’s about 20,000 for phase three.

Q - The 3,000 in phase two, that’s a land force, not a logistics force?

The 3,000 are to support the soldiers who are already on the ground since AMIS is already 7,000 strong. There will be various components in the 3,000. It’s not necessarily for me to give you the details, it’s a matter for the UN. There will be a civilian component, specifically in the political domain, a police component and a military component with air and engineering support.

Q - There won’t be a hybrid force on the ground? How are the new elements going to be integrated?

We’re not talking yet about the hybrid force, which is the third and last stage. We’re talking about phase two. There’s still work to be done so that things can be set up in practice. But the principles have been agreed.

With regard to the command, the UN elements, which will be deployed as part of the heavy support package will be under the authorities of the military command of UNMIS, the UN force which is already in Sudan, which will delegate authority to use its forces to the AMIS commander. So arrangements have been found as far as the command goes.

Q - Will the UN be financing the force?

There will be a UN contribution for the heavy support package.

Q - Does France intend to make a contribution?

The decision hasn’t been taken at this time. As usual in circumstances like these, there’s a dialogue now between the UN and potential contributors. Remember that as far as men are concerned, the idea is still to use Africans for the most part, with the UN acting in a support capacity.

Q - You mentioned the agreement reached at the Arab summit in Riyadh. There was also the proposal for an Arab peacekeeping force. Was this discussed?

I confess I don’t have the answer. It is up to the UN to see now how it can put the package together.

Q - How is France going to contribute to the package?

So far as I know, there’s been no decision. The UN will be holding consultations with various states to make up the heavy support package.

Q - What is France’s position on the composition of the force?

The force is primarily an African force. We have an African force—AMIS—which is going to be reinforced by elements within a UN framework.

Q - This reinforcement constitutes phase two. Has a timetable been put forward for its implementation?

We’re going to have to see how things work out in practice on the ground. According to the United Nations, the deployment should take place at the end of summer.

Q - But didn’t Khartoum already consent to the hybrid force at the end of last year and then withdraw its consent?

We welcome the agreement given by the Sudanese authorities yesterday, but we obviously wish to see it translated into practice. It is one thing to give one’s consent and another to then give concrete form to one’s commitments.

Q - How will the decision be made about each country’s contribution to this new package?

It is the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at the UN which will analyze what is needed, go round the potential contributors and organize a conference to get up a force.


Q - President Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro made a start yesterday to dismantling the confidence zone. Do you have a reaction?

This is being done entirely within the framework of the implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement of March 4. We welcome this further step in the process of normalizing the situation in Cote d’Ivoire.

As you know, a number of stages are set out in the Ouagadougou agreement. Among other things it provides for the Impartial Forces to occupy next the observation posts along a green line.

At the same time there is some adjustment—it has started already —in the Licorne forces which is being done in full coordination with UNOCI.

As the Defense Ministry has already emphasized, the Licorne missions have not been brought into question and Licorne is still in a position to carry them out.


Q - Do you have any comment on the departure of Moqtada Sadr’s ministers from the Iraqi government?

We’ve already had a question about this. We consider that a political process which is as inclusive as possible, involving all the Iraqi communities, is essential for Iraq to overcome its current difficulties and to stem the spiral of violence. We reiterate this message. But I’ve no particular comment on Moqtada Sadr’s decision to pull his movement’s ministers out of the government.


Q - Do you have any comment on the shooting in the US yesterday?

President Chirac expressed yesterday his horror and shock at the shooting and assured the United States of our total solidarity at this time. So I refer you to what the president said.


Q - What position will France take at the board of directors at the World Bank which is going to meet in a few days over the Wolfowitz business?

I believe that the board of directors at the World Bank has decided to leave the matter under consideration so as to see what the findings of the current inquiry are. I can’t say at this time what conclusions we shall draw. The board has the matter before it and is due to discuss the matter again fairly soon, but I don’t have any new element to discuss regarding the French position. I believe Mr. Breton while he was there repeated our attachment to the rules of good management at the Bank and the need for it to be absolutely ethically irreproachable. That remains our position.

Q - Is France in favor of Mr. Wolfowitz leaving?

Once again, I refer you to what the minister for the economy and finance said this weekend. He didn’t directly address this point. He said that the Bank had to be ethically irreproachable. So I will confine myself to what he said.

Q - Is it irreproachable?

There’s an inquiry under way, and I believe the board should be in a position to take a collective judgment about the matter.

Q - Would you have a candidate to propose?

Traditionally I believe that the head of the World Bank is an American. The rules can be changed but the IMF tends to be directed by a European and World Bank by an American.


Q - What’s happening in the discussions on resolution 1701?

The discussions are continuing in New York. Consultations were held again yesterday in the Security Council with all the delegations concerned. Our delegation is obviously listening very closely to the various positions. The text is evolving and we hope to be able to adopt the presidential statement fairly soon. But when you’re dealing with a presidential statement, it requires unanimity so it obviously takes a bit of time to get to the stage of adoption.


Q - You said the text is evolving. In what way?

The text is evolving because we are endeavoring to take on board the remarks being made. I don’t wish to enter more specifically into the details of the amendments that have been introduced. We’re trying to take on board the remarks, providing they don’t alter the nature of the draft.

Q - And have they altered the nature of the draft?

No, the draft remains consistent with the goals. It’s just that there has to be an agreement on the text.

Q - What does France expect from Nicolas Michel’s visit to Beirut and Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Damascus?

With regard to Nicolas Michel’s visit, we fully support the secretary-general’s demarche and we hope it will facilitate an agreement soon between the various Lebanese parties concerned regarding the establishment of the international tribunal. I believe that the visit is actually beginning today. We’ll have to see how long Nicolas Michel stays there—it will be for him to assess. He will have the opportunity to meet with the various parties concerned and to see if there’s a possibility of reaching an agreement on establishing the tribunal.

As for the secretary-general’s mission, I believe he is going to several capitals. He is acting entirely within his role. We welcome his involvement in these issues. Since being appointed, he has already been to the region several times. The fact that he is returning shows his very strong commitment to these questions, and we’re pleased about this.

Q - What do you expect from his visit to Damascus?

I believe Mr. Ban is going there to convey the positions of the international community, which are well known on these various questions. This will give him the opportunity for a very frank and very complete dialogue with the Syrian authorities on all these questions. We hope that it will result in greater engagement of the Syrian authorities on these questions, especially with regard to Lebanon and the other matters you mentioned. We hope that it will foster a constructive engagement on the part of the Syrian authorities.

Q - Do Nicolas Michel’s visit and Mr. Ban’s to Damascus represent one last chance before moving on to Chapter 7 to establish the international tribunal?

I saw that the expression had been used in various quarters. I don’t wish to adopt it myself. Mr. Michel’s visit is obviously important, it’s an important moment and it will allow Mr. Michel to have very complete contacts. Based on these, we shall have a diagnosis.

Embassy of France, April 17, 2007