Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, May 30, 2007)

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


IRAQ

We have learned with grave concern of the kidnapping yesterday of five British nationals from inside the Iraqi Finance Ministry.

We condemn this new hostage-taking, which nothing can justify, and ask for their immediate release. We express to the British authorities and people our deep sense of shock and our solidarity.

This action and the conditions in which it was carried out brutally illustrate the worsening of security conditions in Baghdad and underline, once again, the absolute necessity of not travelling to Iraq.

WORLD BANK

Q - The US is preparing to propose Robert Zoellick to head the World Bank. How does France see this candidate?

In terms of procedure, the board will appoint the new president between now and June 30, the date the current president resigns.

We are waiting to hear the proposals that will be made officially for the presidency. The procedure must be transparent, with concern to give the Bank the best possible leadership so that it can quickly resume its action to further development. The candidates will be examined according to criteria determined by the board.

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner, questioned in Potsdam this morning on the sidelines of the G8, said that if Mr. Zoellick were elected, he wished him “good luck.”

DARFUR

Q - President Bush has announced new sanctions on Khartoum and is calling for a new resolution on Darfur. What is your reaction?

We’ve taken note of President Bush’s statement on tougher American sanctions on Sudan. As you know, a sanctions system already exists in the context of the Security Council. Discussions, in which France is participating, are in progress in New York on eventually strengthening the system.

Q - Could you tell us more about the idea for a humanitarian corridor that would start from Chad? Have you put the idea to the countries concerned? What’s your reaction to American sanctions against Sudan?

As you know, France is currently studying various options that would support the efforts of the international community in Darfur and the region, especially from the humanitarian standpoint. It has also asked the European Union to consider possible lines of action.

One idea under consideration is to improve access to humanitarian aid, specifically a corridor, in consultation with the humanitarian organizations, the United Nations, African Union and the governments concerned.

Other options exist such as strengthening the assets of AMIS and support for the deployment of a UN enhanced support package to the African force. All these ideas are of course being discussed not only with our European partners but also within the Security Council.

With regard to your second question, I refer you to my earlier remarks.

(…)

WESTERN SAHARA

Q - Peter Van Walsum is expected in Paris today. What is he going to talk about with French officials and do you have some idea about the start of negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario? And what is France’s position on the latest developments in this issue?

Mr. Van Walsum’s visit to Paris comes in the context of the implementation of resolution 1754. That will be the focus of the discussions. We expect Mr. Van Walsum to tell us about the progress that has been made in implementing this resolution, and more particularly about his efforts to organize negotiations.

Our position in this matter hasn’t changed. We support all efforts to reach a political solution mutually acceptable to the parties in the framework of the United Nations. Accordingly we welcomed the Moroccan autonomy plan which we felt could be a constructive element in reviving the negotiations./.

Embassy of France, May 30, 2007