Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, August 29, 2007)

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


AFGHANISTAN/SOUTH KOREA

France welcomes the release of three of the South Korean hostages held by the Taliban and calls for the release of the other hostages. It renews its sympathy and solidarity to the hostages’ families and loved ones and to the Afghan and Korean authorities in this ordeal.

LIBYA

Q - The Canard Enchainé has published excerpts of two documents Mr. Kouchner signed with Libya dealing with military cooperation and kept confidential. Do you confirm their existence and if so can you make them public or give us the gist of them?

Of course we confirm the existence of these two documents. The minister briefed legislators on them during hearings in parliament.

We made public at that time the memorandum of understanding between France and Libya on cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. However, it isn’t customary to make public cooperation agreements on defense.

IRAN/NUCLEAR ISSUE

Q - After yesterday’s statements by the Iranian president and his American counterpart on the Iranian nuclear issues, what is France’s position? Do you think the discussions on a new sanctions resolution should be speeded up? Do you still believe in the effectiveness of sanctions?

So long as Iran has not agreed to suspend its sensitive activities, we will maintain our firm attitude in conformity with UN Security Council resolutions, in particular by the adoption of new sanctions.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - What’s your reaction to the meeting between President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert? Will the French foreign minister be presenting some sort of initiative to the parties on his upcoming visit to the Palestinian Territories?

We are delighted that talks are continuing between President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert.

The minister will certainly discuss all the issues which are of concern to this part of the world during his upcoming visit to the region.

Q - Calls for a boycott of Alstom are going around on the grounds that it is constructing a tramway in the occupied territories around Jerusalem, which is in breach of international law and impinges on the result of the negotiations demanded by the international community to achieve peace. What is the official French position?

We have repeatedly stated our position on this issue. French participation in the construction of the tramway in Jerusalem is a matter of private companies and cannot therefore be attributed to the French state.

We informed the executives of the companies involved about the concerns of the Palestinian authorities with regard to part of this project for the construction of the Jerusalem tramway. We maintain in any case our position of principle on the final status of the city of Jerusalem, which must be negotiated between the parties.

(…)

LEBANON

Q - Do you have any comment on the Human Rights Watch report on Lebanon and the war between Hezbollah and Israel last year?

I’ve not read the report and will definitely get back to you when I’ve seen it./.

Embassy of France, August 29, 2007