Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, December 24, 2007)

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


LEBANON

Q - What’s your reaction to the Syrian information minister’s comment that the United States is aborting joint French and Syrian efforts to elect a Lebanese president?

As I said on Friday in response to a question on statements made by the Syrian foreign minister, our position remains the one set forth in the declaration adopted in Paris on December 17 and subscribed to by France and the United States as well as the EU and several Arab countries, under the aegis of the UN secretary-general.

Q - A meeting of Lebanese leaders is slated to be held in Paris. Is it on the agenda, when will it take place and who will take part?

No meeting has been scheduled at this point, so there is neither an agenda nor a list of participants.

As you know, however, France has continuously expressed its readiness to foster all possible efforts on behalf of dialogue and agreement in Lebanon, in the spirit of the La Celle Saint Cloud meeting. That is why we are continuing our contacts with the various players, in liaison with our partners and all the concerned parties.

Q - America’s ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, called on the Security Council last Friday to exert additional pressure on those who are hindering the holding of elections, and to take new measures to incite them to change their position. Does France support imposing this series of sanctions on Syria?

As I said in response to the first question, our position is the one set forth in the December 17 declaration. We call on all concerned parties to contribute to the smooth unfolding of the Lebanese presidential elections within the shortest possible time frame. We hope they will all heed this message.

MIDEAST

Q - Israel is planning to build 740 lodgings in two settlements on the West Bank in 2008, and the Palestinians have decided that in-depth negotiations will not begin until Israel halts construction on the settlements. Do you think the international community should exert pressure on Israel to halt settlements?

In the wake of the Annapolis and Paris conferences, France invites the Israeli authorities to refrain from any unilateral actions that could jeopardize the final status of the Palestinian Territories and challenge the political process under way.

You are well aware of our position on principle: France condemns the continuation of settlement activity, which undermines the viability of the future Palestinian State.

SUDAN

Q - Will the residence permit of Abdwahid Nour, the head of the Sudan Liberation Movement, be renewed for 2008?

Mr. Nour’s stay has been extended for three months. During this period, he must respond positively to invitations to take part in peace negotiations addressed to him by the UN and the African Union.

CÔTE D’IVOIRE

Q - Is France planning to support Côte d’Ivoire in the disarmament phase launched on Saturday in Tiébissou by President Gbagbo and Prime Minister Soro?

France, along with the rest of the international community, supports the implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement. In this context, the “Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration” process is essential to peace in Côte d’Ivoire. Any progress on this aspect of the agreement represents a positive step./.

Embassy of France, December 24, 2007