Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, June 21, 2007)

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


Bernard Kouchner, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, received Saudi Foreign Minister HRH Prince Saud al Faisal today.

The two ministers welcomed the excellence of French-Saudi bilateral relations and expressed their intention to strengthen academic cooperation. Bernard Kouchner thanked his counterpart for the efforts by Saudi security forces to arrest the murderers of the four French nationals killed in Saudi Arabia in February 2007.

Mr. Kouchner and Prince Saud al Faisal discussed regional matters.

With regard to Lebanon, the minister informed the prince of the aims of the informal meeting for representatives of Lebanese political forces being planned in France.

The two ministers reaffirmed their support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Kouchner said that the European Union and France had decided to resume direct aid and reaffirmed France’s support for the Arab peace imitative.

The two ministers also discussed the Iranian nuclear issue and reaffirmed their attachment to pursuing the discussions conducted by Mr. Solana.


Mr. Kouchner phoned Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday June 19 and informed him of France’s support.

He emphasized the French efforts at the general affairs/external relations council on June 18 which had led to the decision to resume direct budget aid. He briefed him on the meeting he had had that same day with Ms Livni to encourage her to release the tax receipts owed the Palestinians.

The minister confirmed that France would provide direct budget aid in a national capacity.

President Abbas thanked our country for its action.

The minister expressed concern about the humanitarian situation and examined with President Abbas ways of delivering aid to Gaza residents through the intermediary of international organizations.

Q - Can you confirm that the Quartet meeting that was supposed to take place in Egypt is now going to be in Paris after it was agreed yesterday during phone conversations among the Quartet members, except for the Russians? Was a date set?

As France doesn’t take part directly in the Quartet, it’s not my place to confirm this type of information.


The Fête de la Musique, launched in France in 1982, has become an international event.

This year over 400 towns and cities in 130 countries are taking part.

About a hundred French artist are performing this year abroad: among them, Juliette Greco in Tel Aviv, Anais, Emily Loizeau and Mademoiselle K at the French alliances in India, Alexis HK in Romania, the Bikini Machine in Tripoli and Jacky Terrasson in New York. The CulturesFrance program, Generation Musiques, takes Souad Massi to Cairo, Aiwa to Caracas, and MAP, R-Wan and Valerie Leuilliot to Tel Aviv.

Audiovisual arts and new technologies are also part of the festival, especially at the French-Japanese Institute in Kyushu where video art is set to music by DJs.

To relay all these events, ADCEP (French association for the development of creativity, studies and projects), which coordinates the Fete de la Musique for the Ministry for Culture and Communication, has developed a website, in conjunction with the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs, “Les Echos de la Fête, le tour du monde multimedia des fêtes de la musique.” It features photos and videos sent by participating institutes, cultural centers and French alliances so that the events around the world can be seen live.

The site also has sound so the images of the Fête can be accompanied by a sonic round-the-world tour.

“Les Echos de la Fête” is also an event itself at which the DJs and VJs play on the Place des Terreaux in Lyons the visual and sound material they have received from participating countries.

In Paris, the gardens of the Hotel de Montesquiou (45 Bd des Invalides), which houses the Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, will be the scene of “Musiques du Monde dans un Jardin,” a free concert organized by the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs, CulturesFance and RFI. This event is dedicated to female voices and will feature five singers mingling the influences of Tunisia (Amel Mathlouthi), Morocco (Zahra Hindi), Israel (Yael Niam), Nigeria ( Asa) and Gabon (Anne-Flore Batchiellilys).


The Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs is organizing the Second International Digital Media Meeting (DRIMN) from June 25 to July 13, 2007. The event offers 26 foreign students and young professionals and six French students a course of training in France at the best schools, universities and training-centers. Three top teaching facilities are providing DRIMN’s regional sessions: Supinfocom in Valenciennes (Nord-Pas-de-Calais), les Gobelins, l’Ecole de l’Image in Paris (Ile-de-France) and the Ecole Nationale du Jeu et des Medias Interactifs in Angoulême (Poitou-Charentes).

The event has three objectives:

-to develop international links among young people, and among establishments that offer digital arts training;

- establish long-lasting ties between French professionals and young artists abroad;

- pass on French skill and know-how.

Participants will present a digital production by their team at the end of the training session for which two prizes will be awarded by the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs.


Q - Can you confirm that the conference among the Lebanese is going to be held in Paris at the end of the month?

We are continuing to prepare this meeting which isn’t a conference but a simple, informal meeting. It could be held mid-July.

Q - What findings did Mr. Cousseran present to Mr. Kouchner?

Mr. Cousseran briefed the minister throughout his trip. He confirmed that the proposal for a meeting among the Lebanese attracted great interest among the Lebanese he’d met insofar as it could encourage a resumption of dialogue among the Lebanese political forces.


Q - After Mr. Cousseran’s visit to Teheran, Iran announced that it supports the French initiative. Is it possible this position will help give a boost to the initiative?

Mr. Cousseran did have positive talks in Teheran as in the other capitals he went to.

Q - The Lebanese authorities say Israeli jets have made multiple passes all over Israeli air space? What’s your reaction?

We’ve noted that very intensive and intrusive overflights have take place since the beginning of the week.

We condemn these violations of the “blue line” and call for respect for Lebanese air space and the sovereignty of the country in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.


Q - Do you have any comment on the attack, which seems to have been well organized, on a Kuwaiti diplomat in front of his embassy in Teheran two days ago?

In general we condemn all attacks on diplomats who are protected by the Vienna Convention.


Q - Can you tell us in detail the list of the participants at the conference on Darfur on Monday?

As we said Tuesday, we will give you the fullest possible briefing tomorrow as answers and confirmations are continuing to reach us. At this stage, as I said the day before yesterday, the US, Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, China, Russia, Japan, Italy, Egypt, Sweden, Denmark and Portugal have announced they will take part. The United Nations, the European Union and other regional and international organizations will also be represented. We will give you more details tomorrow about the day and on the individuals representing their country or organization.


Q - Rodrigo Granda, the FARC official released at the French president’s request, has gone to Cuba not France. Is this bad news for France? Is France encouraging Colombia to let Brazil host a meeting between FARC and the Colombian authorities on its territory? What were the results of the meeting between the minister and the Betancourt support committee?

Mr. Granda's release is a positive signal and a bold decision by the Colombian government. We expect a strong gesture from the FARC in response to this initiative. Mr. Granda’s decision to settle in Cuba does not require any comment from me. We hope that Mr. Granda will find there the conditions that will enable him to play a constructive role in the search for a humanitarian solution.

With regard to the possibility of talks outside Colombian territory, I would remind you that we have underlined several times our interest in any initiative that would encourage the resumption of dialogue leading to a humanitarian solution.

A delegation from the French support committee for Ms Betancourt was received this morning at the Quai d’Orsay. Its representatives presented their association’s action and outlined the plans currently being considered.

The meeting was an opportunity for the minister to share his analysis of developments in the situation in the last few weeks, taking into account in particular Mr. Granda’s release, and to recall that the French authorities were fully and wholly mobilized./.

Embassy of France, June 21, 2007