Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, February 22, 2007)

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


PORTUGAL/FRANCE

Brigitte Girardin, Minister Delegate for Cooperation, Development and Francophony, had a meeting in Paris this morning with Portuguese State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Joao Gomes Cravinho.

The two ministers discussed the upcoming Portuguese presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2007 from the standpoint of development, including the link with the problem of migrations and strengthening African peacekeeping capacities. They agreed to increase bilateral cooperation in development, for Africa in particular. They also discussed the prospect, supported by France, for a second European Union/Africa summit in Lisbon before the end of the year.

(…)

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

France will take part in the International Conference on Sustainable Forest Management in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which will be held in Brussels on February 26 and 27, 2007 on the Belgian government’s initiative. It will be represented by Laurent Stefanini, Ambassador Delegate for the Environment.

France’s support for conserving tropical forest ecosystems is based on improving the management of protected areas and the implementation of modalities for sustainable exploitation to the benefit of local populations, businesses and states.

France is convinced of the need in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the international community to mobilize to reestablish forest governance and preserve an exceptional natural and economic patrimony. Accordingly it participates in the multi-donor fund for Forest Governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has 3.7 million euros in funds. France also provides support to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in that country. Lastly the French Global Environment Fund has provided 0.8 million euros for the management of a protected area in the country.

In central Africa, France has had responsibility, since 2004, for the “facilitation” in the Congo Basin Forest Partnership launched by the United States in 2002. In this context it has provided 41 million euros in financing since 2004. France has also contributed since 2005 to the program for the survival of the great apes (GRASP) which play an important role in the forest system in this region.

IRAN/NUCLEAR

Q - Mr. ElBaradei is expected to report the deadlock on the nuclear issue. Yesterday, was there any meeting of minds between the French and Russians on the need to step up the sanctions in a new Security Council resolution?

Yesterday we had a detailed discussion with the Russian authorities on this subject. As you know, Mr. ElBaradei's report has just been given to the IAEA Board of Governors and needs to be carefully studied. If it turns out that Iran has not complied with the international community's demands, we shall insist, as Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said yesterday in Moscow, on the necessity of pursuing the path of firmness and maintaining the international community's unity. Of course, the door remains open for dialogue, provided the Iranian authorities suspend their sensitive nuclear activities.

(…)

GUINEA

Q - How do you see the persisting political tensions in this country?

In view of the ongoing tensions you referred to, France is encouraging the continuation of dialogue between the labor unions and the Guinean authorities to get the country out of the present crisis. We hope that the negotiations will lead quickly to tangible gains in the interest of all Guineans.

France welcomes the consultations between President Conte and his counterparts in Liberia and Sierra Leone. As you know, the situation in Guinea is being closely watched by the international community as the country’s destabilization could have serious consequences for the security of the sub-region.

France is also supporting the efforts by ECOWAS and the African Union to find a solution. We hope that the ECOWAS mission, due in Conakry this week, will permit the dialogue between the Guinean parties to be successfully concluded.

Our embassy in Guinea remains mobilized and continues to assist the voluntary departure of French nationals who so wish.

(…)

Embassy of France, February 23, 2007