Daily Press Briefing
Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
(Paris, June 18, 2007)
[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]
I want to read the joint communiqué from Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner and Defense Minister Hervé Morin issued on June 16:
“The French force helping with efforts to deliver humanitarian aid for the benefit of the refugees and displaced persons in eastern Chad is now operational.
“At the request of the Chadian authorities and for the benefit of the High National Committee for Assistance to Displaced Chadians, food and vital relief supplies are already being packed and will be delivered by French Army Transall on Sunday, June 17, to Goz-Beida and the Dar-Sila region.
“As indicated in a communiqué from World Food Program ( WFP) Executive Director Josette Sheeran, food aid from the WFP and other agencies will also be ferried by French aircraft from N’djamena.”
I will read the communiqué Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner issued June 17:
“It is with the greatest distress that I learned of the attack this morning in Kabul which killed several dozen people and injured many others. I offer my sincere condolences to the victims’ families and assure the Afghan people of my total sympathy in this tragedy.
“France condemns in the strongest possible terms this cowardly and heinous act. The Afghan authorities can count on our solidarity and commitment, by their side, in the fight against terrorism.”
We welcome the arrest on June 17 of Vlastimir Djordjevic, which confirms Belgrade’s resolve to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
There remain only four persons indicted by the ICTY still in hiding. We hope that these persons, beginning with Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, will soon also be arrested and transferred to The Hague.
Q - What’s your reaction to the arrest of Vlastimir Djordjevic, former Serb police general, in Montenegro yesterday?
I refer you to my statement.
We strongly condemn the rocket fire from Lebanon on Sunday, June 17, targeting the town of Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel.
We welcome the firm statements by Fouad Siniora and the efforts of the Lebanese government to prevent actions endangering the security of the Israeli-Lebanese border and Lebanon’s stability.
We call on all parties to exercise the utmost restraint to prevent any risk of escalation.
Q - What’s your reaction to the formation of the emergency government in Palestine? Does France consider the government legitimate in all the Palestinian Territories?
We support President Mahmoud Abbas. We condemn Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip by military means.
We will help the emergency government formed to find a solution to the very serious crisis that has been created by Hamas in Gaza. European ministers are discussing at this very moment in Luxembourg what assistance can be provided by the European Union.
Mahmoud Abbas, who is a pillar of Palestinian democratic institutions, has a special responsibility at this time. We urge him to continue his efforts to reach a peaceful settlement in this crisis which takes into account the interests of all Palestinians with a view to the formation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
In addition the international community must take into account the difficult situation of the 1.5 million civilians living in the Gaza Strip. The European Union must in particular contribute to the efforts of international humanitarian organizations and play its rightful role in ensuring the success of the EUBAM [border assistance] mission which is vital for the people of Gaza. It is crucial not to further isolate the already suffering population.
Q - Can you confirm the news that the hybrid force cannot be deployed before 2008? And if so, do you find the delay reasonable given the humanitarian situation?
During his recent visit to Khartoum, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner insisted in talks with the Sudanese on the implementation of phase 2 (enhanced UN package to the African Union) and deployment of the hybrid force in the context of phase 3.
With regard to phase 2, the UN believes that it could be set up in a few weeks, starting with the summer.
In the case of the hybrid force, encouraging signs have come from Khartoum in the past few days. The recent mission by the Security Council confirmed this positive movement which makes it possible to envision deploying the force according to the UN timetable early in 2008.
In addition we are continuing our consultations ahead of the meeting of the enlarged Contact Group on Darfur in Paris on June 25. In the context of the close consultations we are having with African leaders, Mr. Kouchner spoke on the phone yesterday with African Union Commission President Alpha Oumar Konare.
Q - What is the purpose of the meeting between Bernard Kouchner and Martti Ahtisaari in Paris today? Will there be a briefing after the meeting?
The purpose of the meeting between Martti Ahtisaari and Bernard Kouchner is to review the negotiations on the future status for Kosovo after the meetings on this question at the Heiligendamm summit and in light of the continuing consultations at the UN in New York.
No specific briefing is planned after the meeting./.
Embassy of France, June 18, 2007