Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, November 19, 2007)

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


ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, went to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on November 17 and 18. During the visit he met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and urged the parties to move forward quickly at this critical time for the future of the peace process so that the meeting in Annapolis leads to the effective re-launch of final-status negotiations. He recalled in this regard that settlements are one of the main obstacles to peace.

This second visit by the minister since taking office also afforded an opportunity to remind the parties of our country’s total commitment to this phase of the peace process. The organization of the donors’ conference for the Palestinian Territories in Paris in December is an expression of this in concrete terms. The minister’s meetings with the Palestinian authorities and with Quartet Representative Tony Blair enabled him to review the aims and conditions for the success of the conference.

Q - Ms Livni has referred to the founding of a Palestinian state that would have to resolve the problem of the Palestinians who for their part had to recognize the state of Israel as a Jewish state. She added that the Palestinian state would also have to provide a solution to Israeli Arabs. What is France’s position on the Jewish character of Israel? And the place of Israeli Arabs?

I’ve no knowledge of the statements by Ms Livni which you’re referring to.

We consider that all issues linked to the final status must be the subject of a negotiated agreement between the parties on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions.

BANGLADESH

I will read the statement issued on November 17:

“The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, offers his profound condolences to the government and people of Bangladesh in the wake of Cyclone Sidr which struck across the country causing over a thousand victims and destroying countless homes.

“The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs hails the remarkable mobilization of the Bangladeshi authorities which permitted large numbers of threatened people to be evacuated, thereby avoiding an even heavier human toll.

“The Minister of Foreign and European affairs expresses his sympathy to the victims’ families and loved ones, and his solidarity with the government of Bangladesh at this painful time.”

France is also setting in place humanitarian aid in the amount of 500,000 euros, two-thirds of it for food aid which is in the process of being delivered.

SYMPOSIUM ON MARINE PROTECTED AREAS (BOULOGNE, NOVEMBER 20 - 22)

France will take part in the first national symposium on marine protected areas which will be held in Boulogne from November 20 - 22, 2007. Initiated by the French committee of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), it will bring together nearly 300 participants from all over the world to discuss conservation of the oceans and seas which are home to nearly 275,000 marine species, that is, 20% of global biodiversity.

France, counting its overseas territories, ranks third in terms of area of coral reef (55,000 km²), second in terms of maritime domain in most of the world’s oceans and seas, and first in terms of its maritime surface.

The protected areas are an essential tool for the conservation and enhancement of marine biodiversity. The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Global Environment Fund (FFEM), has contributed technically and financially to their development since 2000, providing nearly 18 million euros.

The symposium will lay the bases for the first French strategy for marine protected areas.

IRAN

Q - Can you confirm the invitation from Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki to his French counterpart to go to Teheran for a tripartite meeting on Lebanon with Syrian Minister Mouallem?

As you know, the minister is currently in Beirut where he’s having meetings with prominent Lebanese politicians. He has no other trip scheduled.

Q - Has the minister been invited to Teheran by his Iranian counterpart?

As we’ve said before, such a visit will be considered when the time comes.

LEBANON

Q - Has France been officially invited to the conference in Annapolis?

So far as we know, the invitations to this conference as of yesterday weren’t yet sent.

(…)./.

Embassy of France, November 19, 2007