Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, July 26, 2007)

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


AFGHANISTAN

I will read the communiqué issued last night by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner:

“I was deeply moved to learn of the death today of a French solider, a training instructor for the Afghan army, in Wardak province in Afghanistan following a rocket attack.

“I offer my sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.

“This tragic event is a reminder of the difficult conditions in which soldiers of the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan operate.”

LEBANON

I will read the communiqué issued last night by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner:

“I was greatly saddened to learn of the death today of a French soldier, a member of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), during a demining operation in the vicinity of Tyre.

“I offer my sincerest condolences to this family and loved ones.

“France played its full part in reinforcing this force following the adoption of resolution 1701 and is extremely committed to the work done by the men with UNIFIL in support of the Lebanese army and to further Lebanon’s stability and sovereignty.”

FRANCE/LEBANON/EGYPT

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner will visit Lebanon July 27 and 28 following the all-Lebanese meeting at La Celle Saint-Cloud on July 14 and 15.

He will see Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and meet the leaders of the various political forces in Lebanon in order to continue the discussions that were begun in France on the resumption of dialogue around the crucial event of the next presidential elections and the eventual formation of a national unity government. The minister will meet again with all the participants in the La Celle Saint-Cloud meeting.

He will have contacts with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and pay tribute to the French soldier who was a member of the force who was killed July 25. The visit will conclude with a press conference at the Residence des Pins.

He will then go on to Cairo for talks with the Egyptian and Saudi foreign ministers, Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Prince Saud Al-Faisal and with the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.

(…)

IRAN

France, which like its partners opposes the death penalty in all places and circumstances, condemns the execution of 12 Iranian citizens on July 22.

France notes with particular concern that an Iranian official had said on July 10 that the sexual orientation of the condemned persons was one of the charges against them.

The sentences and executions follow on the stoning death of a man for adultery on July 5 and could herald other executions.

At the request of Foreign and Human Rights Secretary Rama Yade, the Iranian chargé d’affaires was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs this morning. We expressed to him our extreme concern and reiterated:

- our opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances;

- our commitment to its abolition worldwide;

- our attachment to the Iranian authorities’ compliance with their 2002 moratorium on stoning;

- our call that no other death sentence by stoning be carried out.

Q - Did you ask Iran to reveal clearly the individual reasons for the death sentence on each of the men who were executed?

I refer you to my statement.

Q - Did you raise the fate of the men sentenced for sodomy with the Iranian chargé d’affaires?

All the death sentences imposed recently were addressed.

Q - Did you bring up the conditions in which homosexuals in Iran live?

The purpose in summoning the chargé d’affaires was to express our opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances.

Q - Are France and Europe heeded by the Iranian president when they discuss the death penalty in that country?

The European Union and its members are committed to the universal abolition of the death penalty. They avail themselves of every opportunity to repeat this to countries which, like Iran, have not yet renounced the practice.

GUINEA PARTNERS’ FORUM

A forum of Guinea’s partners, organized jointly by the European Commission and World Bank was held, in Paris July 24 -25. The purpose was to convene the donors who have been asked to provide aid to the Lansana Kouyate government in the implementation of a short-term emergency package and poverty reduction strategy.

Guinea’s partners pledged to provide US$90 million to the short-term emergency package for the next six months (including $50 million in new financing).

France for its part will contribute 20% of the new financing (7.5 million euros or US$10 million) in addition to the cooperation action it is already pursuing in that country.

LIBYA

Q - What are the dates and modalities (prior development of nuclear safety infrastructure in Libya) of the memorandum of understanding signed with Libya yesterday on the supply of a nuclear reactor for water desalination?

The document signed between France and Libya in the civil nuclear field is an MOU setting out the general framework for our cooperation. As President Sarkozy himself underlined, the text sets a specific objective for French-Libyan cooperation: the construction in Libya of a nuclear reactor that will produce a supply of drinking water through desalination of seawater. An agreement in due form will follow at a later stage.

This memorandum isn’t something that’s just happened. Discussions on cooperation in this area between our two countries, which began after Libya gave up its weapons of mass destruction program in December 2003, have already gone on for several years. The French Atomic Energy Agency ( CEA) had already signed a cooperation agreement with its Libyan counterpart in March 2006. This French-Libyan cooperation in the civil nuclear field is proof that countries that fully comply with their international non-proliferation commitments can obtain all the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

France is having a similar dialogue with several other countries in North Africa and the Middle East. This source of energy is the focus today of renewed interest in these countries and in the rest of the world. France, as you know, supports the development of nuclear energy for peaceful ends with due respect for non-proliferation commitments.

CHINA

Q - The contract Areva has signed for the supply of two nuclear reactors to China is to get the green light from the French (and Chinese ) authorities before there’s a final contract. What government agreement is it? When is the minister’s visit being talked about in the press this morning due to take place?

We have taken note of the reports published in the press.

We have a long-standing, regular dialogue with our Chinese interlocutors with regard to civil nuclear energy. We hope that this collaboration will continue productively in the future.

(…)

Embassy of France, July 26, 2007