Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, August 21, 2007)

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


PERU/EARTHQUAKE

France has offered aid to Peru in the wake of the earthquake that struck the southern part of the country on August 15.

The aid consists of water-treatment equipment and medical support. France is financing the transport to the stricken area of four water purification units and nine containers of drugs donated by the Tulipe association. Two purification units are being provided by Véolia-Water Force, another by the NGO Aquassistance, the fourth deployed by the NGO DASUD 62 (a firefighters association from Pas-de-Calais), by the Pas-de- Calais general council. The NGO DASUD 62 has sent a 10-member medical team (medics and rescue workers, all firefighters) to the affected area. All the equipment will arrive in Peru tomorrow.

In addition the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs will provide 150,000 euros for local NGO projects for building earthquake-resistant shelters in remote rural areas where nearly half the houses were destroyed. This operation is being co-financed with Germany.

France’s total bilateral aid amounts to 300,000 euros to date. France is also making a significant contribution to the aid being provided by the European Union.

As assessment of the situation on the ground is currently in progress. France is ready to increase its aid if needed.

SYRIA/ISRAEL

Q - Reporters Without Borders is demanding the immediate release of Ata Farahat, the Syrian journalist working in the Golan Heights, who is currently being held in Israel’s Al-Jalama prison. What’s your reaction?

France is particularly attentive to the exercise of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

We are aware of Ata Farahat’s situation and are paying close attention to this matter.

(…)

MIDDLE EAST

Q - Is France satisfied with the explanations give by Hamas concerning the alleged diversion of funds from the electric utility in Gaza? Is Paris in favor of the EU resuming payments to the private Israeli company Dor Alon which supplies Gaza?

France is very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and recalls that opening crossing points to permit the delivery of food supplies and basic equipment to Gaza is a priority.

The European Union, through the temporary financial mechanism it has put in place, has only one objective: to assist the Palestinian people.

Everything must be done to find a solution to this problem and rapidly improve the humanitarian situation there.

IRAN/NUCLEAR ISSUE

Q - While an IAEA delegation is in Teheran for the latest round of talks, Ali Larijani has warned against new Security Council sanctions, considering this would render his country’s cooperation with the IAEA “sterile.” What’s your reaction? What do you expect from these talks? How is work progressing on a new resolution on sanctions?

Resolution 1747 requested a report from the IAEA director-general for May 24. This was handed in and it confirmed that Iraq was not implementing the Security Council resolutions. After May 24, Mr. Solana agreed to see Mr. Larijani again several times, in Madrid and Lisbon; he has stepped up efforts to explain the E3+3 position and the offer made to Iran.

As long as Iran has not agreed to suspend its sensitive activities, we must clearly continue to send a message of firmness. We must therefore, in accordance with resolution 1747, return to the Security Council and begin the necessary consultations for adopting a third resolution on sanctions, and we would like to see it be substantial.

IRAQ

Q - Mr. Kouchner spoke about some French participation in Iraq on RTL this morning. What’s it about? Is there some movement on France providing security training for Iraqi personnel?

I don’t believe the minister spoke in the terms you mention and I suggest reading his comments carefully.

The minister reaffirmed this morning that France was willing to play a role in the region and that in order to do so it was essential to listen to the Iraqis. The minister emphasized that France was listening to all the Iraqi parties, without exception.

The minister also called for a stronger role for the UN in Iraq as the Iraqis wish. “The more the Iraqis request the intervention of the United Nations, the more it will help them,” the minister said.

The mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), renewed on August 10, strengthens in this regard the role of the UN in Iraq, which is what the Iraqi government wants.

With regard to your second point, I would remind you that France is not training Iraqi soldiers, not in our country and not in any other country in the region. There is no such project in this area. France does contribute to the European EUJUST-LEX program, which aims to strengthen the rule of law in Iraq.

Q - Could France work in the context of NATO to help train Iraqi military and/or police officers?

I refer you to my previous answer./.

Embassy of France, August 21, 2007