Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, February 19, 2007)

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


FRANCE/RUSSIA

I will read a statement from Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy:

“I utterly condemn the attack against the ‘Friendship Express’ linking New Delhi and Lahore. I convey my sincere condolences to the bereaved and my deep sympathy to the Indian and Pakistani authorities.

“France stands alongside India and Pakistan in their fight against terrorism.

“I pay tribute to the statements that this act of violence will not undermine the efforts which India and Pakistan have set in train to iron out their differences and pursue their efforts to draw closer together.”

FRANCE/RUSSIA

Defense Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie and Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy will go to Moscow on February 21 to take part with their Russian counterparts, Anatoly Serdiuko and Sergey Lavrov, in the French-Russian cooperation council on security questions (CCQS).

The CCQS was established by the presidents of the French Republic and the Russian Federation in January 2002 during President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Paris. It is intended to enhance the strategic dialogue between France and Russia by bringing together the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers to discuss security issues. The last session of the CCQS was held in Paris on October 11, 2005.

This sixth session will include meetings restricted to the ministers and their counterparts, followed by plenary sessions in the 2+2 format. Mr. Douste-Blazy and Ms Alliot-Marie will be received by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin in the afternoon of February 21.

The meetings will afford an opportunity to discuss the following issues in particular: European security architecture (NATO-Russia relations, EU-Russia in the framework of the ESDP), cooperation in the G8 framework and energy security, the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the main regional issues (specifically Afghanistan, the Near and Middle East, Kosovo and frozen conflicts).

FRANCE/CHINA

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy will make an official visit to China on February 28 and March 1. Mr. Douste-Blazy’s was last in China at the time of President Chirac’s state visit in October 2006. During his visit, Mr. Douste-Blazy will have meetings with his counterpart, Li Zhaoxiing, on February 28. He will also be received that same day by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

The minister will discuss with his interlocutors the main international issues, especially the Iranian nuclear question, the crisis in Lebanon, the situation in the Middle East and Darfur. French-Chinese relations, and I’d like to stress their quality and closeness, will be reviewed in depth. The prospects for cooperation in the economic sphere—rail, nuclear, aeronautics—will also be discussed. There will be an exchange of views on development assistance policy, especially in Africa.

The minister will also have working meetings on March 1 with the chairman of the 2008 Olympic Games Organizing Committee, Liu Qi and with Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan. He will visit the future Olympic facilities. Mr. Douste-Blazy will take advantage of his meetings with the Chinese organizers of the 2008 Games to call their attention to the place of the French language during the Games. He will encourage the Chinese side to involve UNITAID in this great world sporting event.

Lastly Mr. Douste-Blazy will preside at the opening of a French-Chinese seminar on traditional Chinese medicine, attended by Chen Zhili, counselor of state, with whom he will have a meeting. A cooperation agreement on traditional Chinese medicine will be signed by Mr. Douste-Blazy and Chinese Health Minister Gao Qiang. The agreement is intended to develop ties in basic and clinical research, regulatory harmonization and industrial development.

(…)

COLOMBIA

I will read the joint communiqué issued Friday, February 16, by the French, Swiss and Spanish foreign ministers:

“In the summer of 2005 France, Spain and Switzerland decided to work together to facilitate the discussion of a humanitarian agreement and relaunch the peace process in Colombia.

“The group of countries proposed to the Colombian government and the FARC a security mechanism to encourage a rapprochement with a view to direct discussions between Colombians in order to achieve, initially, a humanitarian agreement on the release of persons held hostage. The proposal was welcomed but has not yet taken concrete form.

“The three countries are persevering in their efforts. They meet regularly and undertake joint missions.

“The group just met again in Geneva on February 16.

“It has renewed the proposal to guarantee, by means of its observers and diplomats, security in an area where there the meeting between the government and FARC might be held. The group wishes to see the upcoming contacts lead quickly to an agreement on the location of the security area.

“The three countries hope that the parties concerned contribute, by taking public positions, to an atmosphere for dialogue that will favor their facilitation. In addition the governments of France, Spain and Switzerland reiterate their demand to receive proof as soon as possible that the people held hostage are alive.”

MIDDLE EAST

Q - Do you have any comment on the meeting between Rice, Abbas and Olmert, particularly on the reaffirmed commitment of the parties to two states?

It was important in our view that this meeting, which was held in new context, especially after the signature of the Mecca Agreement on February 8, facilitate a constructive dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians and define a political horizon for them.

The reaffirmation by the parties of their commitment to two states must be a first step towards reviving the peace process which an international conference could then usefully accompany.

(…)

Embassy of France, February 20, 2007