Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, May 28, 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 statement made Sunday, May 27, by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner:

‘I have learned with profound joy of the release of the three Afghan hostages working for the NGO Terre d’Enfance.

‘Since Celine Cordelier and Eric Damfreville returned, the French authorities had remained mobilized to this end, considering that only the release of their Afghan companions could put an end to this painful episode.

‘I welcome this happy outcome and thank all those who, through their mobilization, contributed to it in France and Afghanistan.’

EUROPE

Jean-Pierre Jouyet, Minister of State with responsibility for European Affairs, is going to Berlin today Monday, May 28, for his first bilateral visit to a European country. He will talk to Mr Reinhard Silberberg, Minister of State attached to the German Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Jouet will go to London on May 29 to meet Geoff Hoon, British Minister of Europe.

During these meetings, the minister of state will talk to his counterparts about the major European issues, particularly the discussion on the European Union institutions in the run-up to the forthcoming European Council (June 21-22).

ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

France is very concerned by the escalation of the violence which, over the past few days, has cost the lives of over 40 Palestinians, including several civilians, and caused the deaths of two Israelis. It calls on the leaders of all the movements involved immediately to renounce violence, comply with the ceasefire and resume the dialogue.

France unreservedly condemns the rocket firing. It calls on Israel to use its right of legitimate defense with restraint, with due regard for international humanitarian law and the concern to spare human lives.

LEBANON

Q - Can you say a few words about the minister’s meeting this morning with General Aoun?

The meeting, held at General Aoun’s request, is part of the regular contacts we have with Lebanese political forces.

It was an opportunity for the minister to reaffirm our support for the independence, sovereignty and stability of Lebanon, and the establishment of the international tribunal to try Rafik Hariri’s assassins.

The minister and General Aoun discussed the political situation. The minister said we wished to see the upcoming elections take place satisfactorily.

Q - Will the foreign and European affairs minister, who met with General Aoun this morning, be having other meetings with members of the Lebanese opposition as he announced in Beirut?

During his visit to Beirut, the minister said he was prepared, as a friend of Lebanon, to have dialogue with the representatives of political forces sharing the same attachment to the country’s sovereignty and stability.

In this context other meetings are not ruled out but I’ve no knowledge of any at this time.

(…)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

Q - What’s the French reaction to the knife and machete attack against villagers in eastern DRC this weekend?

We strongly condemn this attack which has once again struck civilians who have already suffered a great deal from the years of deadly conflicts.

This unacceptable violence is evidence of the precarious security situation in the DRC, especially in the east of the country, and the urgent need to carry out a thorough reform of the Congolese army so that peace and security can be restored throughout the country.

They confirm, if it were needed, the validity of the MONUC mandate and the important role it plays.

Through its bilateral action and within the European Union, France has made a significant contribution to the reform of the security sector in the DRC. It is determined to continue its engagement in this area in support of the Congolese authorities and in close coordination with its international partners.

RUSSIA

Q - What’s your reaction to the violence during the gay pride parade in Moscow?

We deplore the attack by extremist elements on homosexual activists and European legislators who had come peacefully to bring a petition to the mayor of Moscow, signed by over 40 members of the European Parliament, asking that the gay pride parade be allowed in the Russian capital.

We regret the arrest of national elected officials and several members of the European Parliament, who have since been released, and of several Russian homosexual activists. We ask that they be released.

Our consul in Moscow has seen and assisted a French national who was detained then released after being questioned by the police.

We hope full light is shed on the circumstances in which these attacks occurred. We deplore the violence and reaffirm that sexual orientation is a personal matter. No one therefore should be a victim of violence because of their choice in this matter./.

Embassy of France, May 29, 2007