Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, July 18, 2007)

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


LIBYA

I will read the statement made by the minister of foreign and European affairs on July 17:

“I welcome the decision by the Supreme Judicial Council in Tripoli to commute the death sentence against the Bulgarian nurses and doctor to life imprisonment. Even so the important thing is still their actual release. France and the international community remain mobilized in their dialogue with the Libyan authorities to enable them to be handed over to the Bulgarian authorities.

“With regard to our position on the merits, I recall that it is dictated by our solidarity on two counts: with the nurses and doctor, and with the contaminated children.”

Q - Is France going to contribute, and if so how and by how much, to the compensation fund for the families of the Libyan children contaminated by AIDS in Benghazi?

The European Union, whose budget comes from the member states (for France, 16%), has mounted a Benghazi AIDS action plan for the sick children, focusing on expertise and medical personnel training.

The European Commission also established a support fund in 2006 with Libya, Bulgaria, Britain, the US, Italy, Spain, Malta and France whose purpose is to implement medical assistance programs at the hospital in Benghazi. France contributed to it in 2006 by taking in 150 Libyan children for medical treatment.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The emir of Abu Dhabi, president of the United Arab Emirates Federation, HM Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, is making an official visit to France until July 22.

President Nicolas Sarkozy will receive him Friday, July 20, at 12:30 p.m. for a meeting followed by a working luncheon. HM Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan was welcomed on his arrival by Defense Minister Hervé Morin.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner will have talks with his counterpart, Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, today at 3 p.m.

The emir of Abu Dhabi will be accompanied on this official visit by Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Presidential Affairs Minister Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Minister for the Economy Sheika Loubna bint Khaled al-Qasimi.

France and the United Arab Emirates maintain close and constant relations in the political, military, economic and trade spheres. Our cooperation with regard to education and culture is reflected in the opening of a branch of the Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi and the Louvre Abu Dhabi project.

EUROPEAN UNION

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner is meeting today with European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner who is responsible for external relations and neighborhood policy.

They will discuss the recent developments in neighborhood policy along with the main questions in the common foreign and security policy such as European assistance to the Palestinians, the situation of the Bulgarian nurses and the Darfur crisis. The minister will brief Ms Ferrero-Waldner on the state of French thinking on the proposed Mediterranean union.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS IN FRANCE

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner will meet on July 19 at noon with leaders of international organizations that have their headquarters in France, including the International Francophonie Organization, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the European Space Agency, but also the Bureau of International Exhibitions, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, the International Organization of Vine and Wine, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The minister wishes to maintain regular dialogue with intergovernmental organizations whose presence in France shows the importance we attach to multilateralism. This contact will allow for an informal exchange of views on the existence and functioning of these institutions in France.

SLOVENIA

European Affairs Secretary Jean-Pierre Jouyet will be in Slovenia on July 19 and 20 at the invitation of his Slovenian counterpart, Janez Lenarcic. He will also have talks with Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, the chairman of the Slovenian National Assembly European affairs committee and with Slovenia MEPs.

These talks will be an opportunity to discuss the priorities of the Portuguese presidency, which we support, and the preparation for Slovenia’s presidency of the European Union Council, and then France’s which will follow on each other in 2008.

Our two countries are cooperating closely in this perspective, particularly on participation in the IGC in the context of the mandate defined by the European Council on June 21-22, and on the Lisbon strategy, energy, and action against global warming.

PAKISTAN

France condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack yesterday in Islamabad in front of the court in the Markaz district.

In these tragic circumstances, our thoughts are with the Pakistani authorities and the victims’ families and friends.

France supports the actions taken by President Musharraf and his government in the fight against terrorism.

BRAZIL

We learned with deep sadness the news of the air disaster last night at Congonhas airport, Sao Paulo.

France presents its condolences to the victims’ families and friends, and assures the Brazilian authorities and people of its sympathy in these tragic circumstances.

LEBANON

Q - Now that Mr. Cousseran is in Damascus, does that mean that the conditions set for the resumption of “high-level” contacts, often announced have been met and have prompted this visit?

The minister’s special envoy, Ambassador Jean-Claude Cousseran, is indeed in Damascus at this time. This is not a “high-level” contact.

It seemed appropriate for him to go in the wake of the inter-Lebanese meeting at La Celle Saint-Cloud. You are familiar with our position and our expectations with respect to Syria. These deal first with Lebanon and the need for Syria to implement the international resolutions regarding that country. At a time when the representatives of Lebanese political forces have just re-established dialogue at La Celle Saint-Cloud, an opportunity is offered the Lebanese to move towards a settlement of the crisis.

Q - Was the visit discussed in principle with the Lebanese participants at the informal meeting at La Celle Saint-Cloud?

The point was not discussed at the talks at La Celle Saint-Cloud.

Q - How did the Lebanese parties react?

I refer you to my previous answer.

Q - So are we to understand that Damascus can help in resolving the crisis and that that is why Ambassador Cousseran is there?

All the states in the region must understand that it is urgent the institutional crisis in Lebanon come to an end. All stand to gain by it, especially Syria. That is the purpose of Mr. Cousseran’s visit.

(…)

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT DAYS

Q - Is Mr. Kouchner planning to speak this afternoon at the “International Development Days” event where his presence has been announced?

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner will preside at the closing session of the event and deliver a speech to all the participants./.

Embassy of France, July 18, 2007