Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, October 25, 2007)

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


MINISTER’S VISIT TO ASIA

Bernard Kouchner will make a tour of the Far East from October 28 to November 1.

He will be in Singapore and then Thailand from October 28 to 31 for consultations on the situation in Myanmar. He will have meetings with Singapore’s prime minister and foreign minister and with the prime minister and foreign minister of Thailand. He will also meet with refugees and members of the Myanmar opposition in exile.

The purpose of the visit is to strengthen international mobilization on Myanmar and support Mr. Gambari’s mission, and to seek the opinions of Singapore and Thailand, and more generally ASEAN, on the conditions for a real process of dialogue and national reconciliation in Myanmar. France is convinced that Myanmar’s neighbors have a key role to play in continuing to step up international pressure on the junta.

The visit to Singapore, which currently holds the ASEAN presidency, will also be an opportunity to discuss the upcoming ASEAN summit and the EU/ASEAN summit.

Mr. Kouchner will then go on to China, October 31 and November 1, for meetings with the Chinese authorities. He will have a working session with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, and be received by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on October 31.

His visit comes in the preparatory phase of preparations for the president’s state visit. The minister will discuss various aspects of bilateral political dialogue and the main international crises, particularly in Asia, Myanmar, North Korea, Afghanistan, but also Iran, Darfur and Kosovo where China’s action is very important.

Lastly, the minister, will bring up human rights in his meetings.

ARMENIA/FRANCE

Prime Minister Serge Sarkissian of the Republic of Armenia is making a working visit to France October 25 and 26. He will have meetings with President Nicholas Sarkozy on the 26th and with Prime Minister François Fillon on the 25th.

These meetings are an opportunity to discuss the various aspects of our bilateral relations and Armenia’s relations with the European Union. The situation in the South Caucasus and in particular the prospects for resolving the conflict in Upper Karabakh will also be discussed as France co-chairs, with the US and Russian Federation, the Minsk Group tasked with finding a lasting solution to this problem.

FRANCE/IRELAND

European Affairs Secretary Jean-Pierre Jouyet will go to Ireland on Friday, October 26. He will have talks with his counterpart, Dick Roche. The visit comes in the wake of the meeting President Nicolas Sarkozy had with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on September 21.

Aside from talks on the main European questions, particularly the common agricultural policy, he will be discussing the ESDP operation in Chad and the Central African Republic launched by the general affairs/external relations council on October 15 on the basis of UNSCR 1778, and will welcome the Irish authorities’ involvement in this mission which is to be commanded by Irish General Pat Nash.

(…)

LEBANON

We’ve read with the greatest interest the 6th report of the UN secretary-general on the implementation of SCR 1559. This resolution must be implemented in full like the other Security Council resolutions on Lebanon, in particular SCR 1701 and 1757. At issue here is the complete re-establishment of Lebanon’s sovereignty, unity and political independence.

The report several times hails the efforts and significant progress made by the Lebanese government and army to re-establish their authority over the entire territory. The victory achieved by the Lebanese armed forces over the Fatah Al Islam group is a major success. The challenges, however, are still enormous. We share the secretary-general’s concern about the precariousness of security conditions prevailing in Lebanon and the absence of any progress with regard to the disarmament of other militias which will have to be done in the context of a political dialogue and which is essential for preserving Lebanon’s security and stability.

The secretary-general calls for a presidential election free from all outside interference and influence, held in strict compliance with constitutional standards. He calls for the election of a president with the broadest possible support. This is the message that the minister delivered to Lebanon with his Italian and Spanish colleagues last week.

VIETNAM

France welcomes the release of five people held prisoner in Vietnam who were on the European list of human rights defenders; their release comes in the context of a presidential amnesty accorded for the national holiday.

IRAQ

Q - Turkish planes and soldiers have attacked Kurdish rebel positions in Iraq. Do you have any comment?

France recalls its commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. It reiterates its condemnation of violence by the PKK and welcomes the decision of the Iraqi authorities to ban this terrorist organization from using Iraqi territory for its activities against Turkey. It continues to call on the Turkish and Iraqi authorities to find a solution to end this situation./.

Embassy of France, October 25, 2007