Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, March 26, 2007)

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


IRAN

I will read the statement Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy made on Saturday, March 24, after the adoption of resolution 1747:

“I welcome the unanimous adoption of resolution 1747 by the Security Council which has just taken place in New York.

“In accordance with its previous commitments, the Security Council is today imposing additional sanctions on Iran in the wake of Tehran's refusal to suspend its sensitive nuclear activities.

“These measures extend the sanctions which have already been in place for three months to additional individuals and entities contributing to Iran's proliferating activities. They concern the exports of weapons from and to Iran and provide for new restrictions in the economic and financial spheres.

“These measures became inevitable when the IAEA observed in its latest report that Iran was still refusing to comply with its international obligations as decided by the preceding United Nations resolutions.

“Today, our objective remains, more than ever, to convince Iran to comply with its international commitments. With this new resolution, the Security Council is reaffirming the clear choice confronting the Iranian leaders: to cooperate with the international community or pursue their enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and worsen still further their international isolation.

“In this respect, the capture of 15 British sailors and marines by the Iranian forces is a worrying act which goes against the efforts to calm things down and is one we condemn. I call for their immediate release.

“Once again, I urge the Iranian authorities to opt for dialogue and return to the negotiating table.”

Q - Iran has called the new resolution “illegal” and announced it was limiting its cooperation with the IAEA. What’s your reaction?

We heard with concern the statements by the Iranian government spokesman announcing the “partial limitation on cooperation with the IAEA.” The scope of these statements remains uncertain.

In any case, I would like to point out that Iran has obligations to cooperate with the IAEA which it has to keep under the NPT, under its safeguards agreement with the Agency and the resolutions adopted by the Security Council (1696, 1737, 1747). Under resolution 1737, Iran will have to give the IAEA the access and cooperation it asks for in order to verify suspension and resolve all the outstanding questions mentioned in its reports.

Q - Do you see a link between Iran’s capture of the British sailors and the vote on the new resolution on Iran in the Security Council?

I refer you to the statement made by the minister on Saturday, March 24. Mr. Douste-Blazy called the capture “a worrying act that goes against the efforts to calm things down.”

It is not my place to comment on the link you mentioned. I refer you to the statements by the British authorities.

FRANCE/DRC

I will read the communiqué issued Saturday, March 24, at the end of Brigitte Girardin’s visit to the DRC.

“Brigitte Girardin, Minister Delegate for Cooperation, Development and Francophony, went to Kinshasa on Saturday, March 24, 2007. She met with President Kabila, Prime Minister Gizenga and Minister of State Minister of Foreign Affairs Mboussa Nyamwisi.

“She signed with the latter a framework partnership document for 235 million euros over five years, in the presence of the ministers for planning, the environment, education and health. This document is the first cooperation agreement signed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo with France in 17 years.

With President Kabila, Ms Girardin reviewed the political situation in the DRC and the recent events in Kinshasa. The discussion focused on the consolidation of the democratic process after the October 2006 elections, and increasing cooperation between France and the DRC. Ms Girardin reaffirmed France’s support to the legitimate Congolese authorities that emerged from the democratic elections in October and November 2006. She also spoke by telephone with Senator Jena-Pierre Bemba in order to contribute to a swift political settlement of the crisis.

“Ms Girardin also met at the Residence of France with the French community after the trying experience of the recent fighting.

“The visit marks another stage in the consolidation of relations between the DRC and our country, and illustrates France’s wish to contribute to the recovery of this country which has been ravaged by a long civil war and is in the midst of democratic transition.”

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY/FRANCE

Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziyad Abu Amro will visit France at the beginning of April. The visit is in response to the invitation addressed to him by Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy after he was appointed. He will be received by the minister on April 2. The other details of Mr. Abu Amro’s program will be communicated as soon as possible.

Mr. Abu Amro’s meeting with the minister will focus on how to pave the way for new relations of cooperation with the Palestinian government which has just been formed, and revive the peace process in the wake of the Mecca agreement and the Riyadh summit.

(…)

BAMAKO PEACEKEEPING SCHOOL

The Peacekeeping School at Bamako is being inaugurated this Monday, March 26, in the presence of the president of Mali and officials from Mali, Germany, Canada, Denmark, the US, the Netherlands, Britain and Switzerland. France is represented by Vice-Admiral Edouard Guillaud, chief of army staff to President Chirac, Ambassador Pierre-Henri Wiltzer, high representative for security and conflict-prevention, and General Emmanuel Beth, director for military and defense cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Initially founded in 1999 in Cote d’Ivoire and located in Koulikoro (Mali) since 2002, the Peacekeeping School is a Malian establishment serving the region, devoted to providing training in peace support operations in Africa to military officers who come chiefly from the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

France has been seeking since 2004 to open up the national schools serving the region more widely to the multilateral partnership so as to give them greater visibility, especially to other partners in Africa for whom they constitute a solid basis on which they can build to provide their own support and expertise to the huge area of peace support.

The Peacekeeping School in Bamako, established at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the department for military cooperation and defense (DCMD), is a key element in an effective policy to strengthen African peace-building capacities, in support of the RECAMP concept since 1997, for its training component. The school is recognized as being a center of excellence in ECOWAS and the African Union.

The Bamako project is entirely consistent with the mechanisms being set up at the subregional level (ECOWAS) and continent-wide level (AU). A unique peacekeeping training course in West Africa has been set up in liaison with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC, Accra, Ghana), and the War College in Abuja (Nigeria).

Given that the Koulikoro location was not suitable for the expanded Peacekeeping School, it was decided to move it to Bamako in April 2004. The first stone was laid in November 2005. The first courses, which will begin in April 2007, will train 60 participants at a time. Between 1999 and the end of 2006, a total of 1,633 officers from 40 African countries received training in peacekeeping operations (603 of them trained at Zambakro). Since being relocated to Koulikoro in June 2003, 1,030 officer trainees took 51 courses in Mali (training as military observers, DDR, RECAMP, civilian-military actions, basic knowledge for subalterns on peace support operations, etc.).

The total cost (ground, infrastructure, equipment and personnel) of building the Peacekeeping School in Bamako is estimated at 8 million euros. It is the result of cooperation between Mali, France, Germany Canada, Denmark, the US, the Netherlands, Britain and Switzerland, which also extends to training. Argentina and Brazil may join in the last-named aspect shortly.

FRANCE COOPERATION INTERNATIONALE

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs invites you to visit, starting today, the website of the public interest group France Cooperation International: www.fci.gouv.fr

You will find there pages on the institutions (status, organization), details about its activities (remit and missions) and information about the profiles of experts being sought for short-, medium- and long-term missions. More complete and more ergonomic, the redesigned website will also provide links to partner sites.

Founded in 2002 by a convention between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for the Civil Service and Administrative Reform, the French Development Agency (AFD), the National School of Administration and Egide, France Cooperation Internationale is the operational instrument for encouraging, coordinating and supporting French public and private operators performing an international cooperation mission funded by multilateral donors.

Since 2005 it has also been entrusted with the recruitment and management of technical assistants financed by Foreign Ministry credits delegated to the AFD in the following areas: agriculture and rural development, environment, health, education and occupational training.

LEBANON

Q - About the international tribunal. President Chirac said at his press conference in Berlin, “…at this point I’ll support the initiative (a decision under chapter 7). It would be better for Lebanon to do this. But we can’t wait any longer. An initiative has to be taken now….before my term ends.”

Q - Why the change in position about setting up a tribunal? Is there agreement in the Security Council on moving to chapter 7? (…)

France has constantly reaffirmed its commitment to the establishment of the international tribunal desired by the international community.

As President Chirac said at his press conference in Berlin after the ceremonies for the 50th anniversary of the Rome Treaty, “It is desirable for the Lebanese authorities themselves (….) to take the initiatives that are required.” The head of state however thinks that if local circumstances would make this difficult or impossible, then another way should be found, through a decision taken under chapter 7.

In terms of a timeframe, the president mentions the possibility of such an initiative before his term ends.

The option of setting up an international tribunal under chapter 7 obviously entails a new Security Council resolution.

Q - The Maronite patriarch and Council of Bishops are opposed to a tribunal under chapter 7. You yourselves were against it. Aren’t you worried that such an approach might exacerbate the divisions in Lebanon and add to the tensions?

As I just said, such an option is envisioned only as a last resort. The Lebanese and the international community cannot actually renounce the establishment of the tribunal which answers an imperative of justice.

(…)

RIYADH SUMMIT

Q - What is France expecting to come out of the Riyadh summit?

We support in general the efforts to find a resolution to the crises in the region. We welcome the role played by the Arab League to this end.

With regard to the peace process, the summit comes at an important time, after the Mecca agreement and the formation of a new Palestinian government. We hope that the summit will help revive this process.

With regard to Lebanon, we hope that the efforts currently being made by Saudi diplomats contribute to overcoming the present difficulties.

As for the other subjects discussed such as Iraq and Darfur we also hope that progress will be made.

Q - Condoleezza Rice has called for a reactivation of the Arab peace initiative. What do you expect from the Arab summit on this question?

We’ve continually expressed our support for the Arab peace initiative since 2002. We hope that the initiative is given new stimulus at this summit./.

Embassy of France, March 26, 2007