Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, November 26, 2007)

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


Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner is flying to the United States today to take part in the conference at Annapolis which is expected to lead to the start of negotiations on establishing a Palestinian state living in peace and security with the state of Israel.

The minister of foreign and European affairs was due to have bilateral talks this Monday, specifically with his British and Egyptian counterparts, David Miliband and Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. There is also to be a meeting with the co-chairs of the donors’ conference which is to be held in Paris on December 17.

Mr. Kouchner will take part in the conference at Annapolis on Tuesday. France supports the establishment of an independent, sovereign, viable, democratic and peaceful state of Palestine and Israel’s right to live within sure borders. In this perspective the minister will present the Paris conference at the session on institutional reform and capacity-building. Its purpose is to mobilize donors and provide financial and political support to the Palestinian Authority in order to help it build a viable state.

Q - Even though the Annapolis conference starts today, an Israeli attack killed one person and wounded several Palestinians in northern Gaza this morning. Your reaction?

We call on all the parties to exercise the utmost restraint to prevent any risk of escalation.



Q - The African Union (AU) ultimatum to Mohammed Bacar, self-proclaimed president of the island of Anjouan (Comoros), ended last night, opening the way now for all solutions, including military intervention. What kind of solution to the crisis is being seen in Paris?

France, which has fully supported the efforts of the African Union since the beginning of the crisis, calls for a return to constitutional order in the Comoros and hopes that new elections under AU supervision will be held in Anjouan soon. Further talks are expected at the AU Peace and Security Council in the next few days in order to review the situation after the expiration of the 45-day deadline. We confirm our full support and reaffirm our confidence in the AU and in particular the group of countries in the region heading up the election and security support mission, under the impetus of South Africa and Tanzania, so that they continue their action to encourage a peaceful resolution to this crisis.


Q - What is your reaction to the legislative elections in Jordan which have given rise to charges of fraud?

We are pleased that the legislative elections in Jordan went smoothly and that Nader Dhabi has been appointed prime minister. He has already held cabinet positions in the past and will have responsibility in particular for ensuring that Jordan continues its strong economic performance, based on the gains made by his predecessor in the area of economic reforms.


Q - Mr. Bockel doesn’t usually attend a meeting of donors of an African country at World Bank headquarters in Paris (he wasn’t there recently for the meetings on Guinea and Senegal). But this time he’s attending the Thursday meeting on the DRC. What are the reasons?

France is heavily mobilized to assist the Democratic Republic of the Congo in putting the crisis behind it. This meeting, the first since the democratic transition was completed, has particular importance. For us it is an opportunity to show our support for the country’s legitimately elected institutions and our resolve to assist their efforts in the long-term in order to meet the challenges of peace-building and economic and social development. That is the reason why Mr. Bockel is attending.


Q - The Nigerian Senate recently asked President Umaru Yar’Adua to halt the transfer of sovereignty over Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon in accordance with an ICJ ruling. Are you worried that you’re back at square one after the Senate decision which was, I would remind you, preceded by the death of about 20 Cameroonian soldiers?

The issue of sovereignty over Bakassi was decided by an International Court of Justice ruling on October 10, 2002. We welcomed Nigeria’s acceptance of the ICJ decision which was based on the June 12, 2006 Green Tree accord.

We invite the signatories to comply with their international commitments and encourage the Cameroonian and Nigerian authorities to pursue the work begun in the Nigeria-Cameroon joint commission and the Bakassi accord follow-up committee.


Q - Do you have any comment on the return of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the political situation in Pakistan?

As the European Union said in its statement on November 6, we call on the Pakistani government to take steps immediately to establish the necessary conditions for free and fair elections.

Together with our European partners, we call for the lifting of the state of emergency, the re-establishment of the constitution and the release of all the people arrested.

In the present circumstances dialogue with the political opposition is very important.


Q - Aside from what Mr. Kouchner said on RTL this morning, did France contact the Russian authorities after the crackdown on opposition demonstrations and Garry Kasparov’s arrest?

We learned with concern that several demonstrators and opposition political leaders, including Garry Kasparov, had been detained for questioning this weekend, just days before the Russian parliamentary elections, and we call for their release. We are conferring with our European partners on this matter.

As the minister, Bernard Kouchner, said this morning, we are surprised at what happened. We are wondering about the circumstances that led to the arrests and the use of such means.

France recalls its commitment to freedom of expression and freedom to demonstrate.


Q - Will the announcement of new fighting in Chad jeopardize deployment of the EU force in that country?

These incidents confirm the need to set in place the European operation provided for in UNSCR 1778 as quickly as possible in order to secure the area./.

Embassy of France, November 26, 2007