Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, April 12, 2013)

Visit by Mr. Laurent Fabius to China (April 12 to 13, 2013)
Campaign for the universal abolition of the death penalty
Lebanon – Syrian air raids on the village of Sarjal Ajram
Visit by Mr. Laurent Fabius to Mauritania (April 16, 2013)

Visit by Mr. Laurent Fabius to China (April 12 to 13, 2013)

Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, will visit China from April 12 to 13. He will go to Beijing and Shanghai.

This visit will allow the minister to meet with the new Chinese authorities who took office in March and to prepare for the visit that President Hollande will make to China in the near future.

In Beijing, the minister will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping today. He will also meet with Mr. Yang Jiechi, State Councilor responsible for Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In Shanghai, on April 13, Mr. Laurent Fabius will meet with the Mayor of Shanghai, Mr. Yang Xiong. He will take part in several events focusing on our country’s attractiveness. He will visit the French-German Visa Application Center and will meet with business leaders and foreign trade advisors. The minister will speak before the members of “Club France,” an organization that brings together in China former Chinese students in France.


Campaign for the universal abolition of the death penalty

With two months to go before the World Congress on the Death Penalty due to take place in Madrid from June 12 to 15, 2013, France reaffirms its firm and constant opposition to the death penalty everywhere and under all circumstances. This Congress, organized by the “Together against the Death Penalty” association, with the sponsorship of France, Spain, Norway and Switzerland, will be an important occasion for the abolitionist movement. France calls on all states to provide it with the broadest possible political support.

France abolished the death penalty in 1981. On October 9, 2012, Laurent Fabius launched a campaign for the universal abolition of the death penalty in order to renew and strengthen France’s actions to combat this cruel and inhuman punishment that does not serve as a deterrent to crime. In close collaboration with civil society, the entire French diplomatic network is mobilized to advance this great cause in all states that still apply the death penalty.

Our efforts are beginning to pay off, as shown by the adoption in December - by an ever larger majority - of the UN General Assembly resolution calling for the establishment of a universal moratorium. Global awareness is increasing on all continents, regardless of the type of political regime, the level of development or cultural heritage.

The abolition of the death penalty gains momentum every year: two thirds of the 193 UN countries no longer use the death penalty, compared with a third 10 years ago. However, the battle is far from over. Since 2012, several states have abandoned their moratoriums and resumed executions. Executions are even on the increase in a core group of states that retain the death penalty. Amnesty International’s report, published on April 10, notes at least 682 executions in 21 states in 2012.

France urges all states that apply the death penalty to immediately establish a moratorium with a view toward its definitive abolition. Together with its partners, it will continue to resolutely pursue the fight against the abolition of the death penalty.

Lebanon – Syrian air raids on the village of Sarjal Ajram

We strongly condemn the bombings carried out by the Syrian regime’s armed forces on Wednesday and Thursday on the village of Sarjal Ajram in the north of Lebanon which injured 4 people.

They constitute a further serious violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty by the Damascus regime.

France reaffirms its attachment to the sovereignty and stability of Lebanon, as well to the respect for the inviolability of its borders.


Visit by Mr. Laurent Fabius to Mauritania (April 16, 2013)

Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, will visit Nouakchott from April 15 to 16, 2013.

The first day will be devoted to bilateral relations. It will provide an opportunity for the minister to meet with Mr. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, as well as with Mr. Hamadi Ould Baba Ould Hamadi, Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, to discuss issues of common interest, namely regional security, the Malian crisis and development.

During this visit, the Partnership Framework Document covering the period 2013-2015, will be signed by the minister and his Mauritanian counterpart. It focuses on support for sustainable development, governance, development and scientific and cultural cooperation. Four agreements on AFD (French Development Agency) funding will also be signed by the minister and the Mauritanian minister of economic affairs and development. They relate to 3 key projects to support decentralization, provide technical and vocational training and build a hybrid photovoltaic-thermal plant.

Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, will devote April 16 to the 10th meeting of the foreign ministers of the Western Mediterranean Dialogue (5+5). This meeting, which takes place every year, will allow the 10 countries of this informal forum (the north Mediterranean countries include Italy, Spain, Portugal and Malta, in addition to France; the south Mediterranean countries include Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya) to exchange views on the major political issues that concern them collectively, such as security in the Sahel, the Syrian crisis, and the Middle East peace process.

On this occasion and in close coordination with the European Commission, the Arab Maghreb Union and the Union for the Mediterranean, represented in the various 5+5 meetings as observers, the major cooperation projects of common interest will be examined and encouraged.

Meetings at the level of the technical ministers will then focus on the implementation of these projects in the group’s different areas of interest: defense, security, education, higher education and food security.

Since the summit of the Heads of State and Government of the 5+5, which took place in Malta from October 5 to 6, 2012, the 5+5 Dialogue has emerged as a forum for dialogue and cooperation that is essential to developing – as of now – the “Mediterranean of projects,” which is a central focus of our diplomatic efforts.