The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - January 10, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Iran – Mr. Le Drian's participation in a ministerial meeting with Javad Zarif (Brussels - January 11, 2018)

◢  Syria – Humanitarian situation

◢  Israel/Palestinian Territories – Murder of an Israeli near Havat Gilad

◢  Burma/Myanmar – Press freedom

◢  United Nations – Adoption of a resolution to protect the high seas - Joint communiqué

Iran – Mr. Le Drian's participation in a ministerial meeting with Javad Zarif (Brussels - January 11, 2018)

A meeting between the French, British and German ministers of foreign affairs and their Iranian counterpart, together with the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, will take place tomorrow in Brussels.

This meeting will provide an opportunity for the parties to reiterate their positions on the Iranian nuclear agreement and to take stock of its implementation.

France is determined to preserve the Vienna agreement, which it helped strengthen during the negotiations and from the start of the implementation phase. This agreement is binding upon us as it is on all countries that signed it. This is true for the nuclear component—and Iran must strictly implement its commitments—as well as the economic component. This agreement has also been recognized by the UN Security Council as the solution to a crisis that has lasted more than 10 years.

Other concerns, beside the nuclear issue, must be addressed.

Iran's ballistic missile program is inconsistent with UNSCR 2231 and is a destabilizing factor in the region. The information regarding the transfer of missiles and assistance from Iran to countries and non-state entities in the region is of serious concern. This is why Iran's ballistic missile program must be monitored. We call on Iran to put an end to the ballistic missile launches inconsistent with the resolution and to respond to the offer of dialogue on this issue. The EU must remain active on this issue.

Iran's action in the region, notably in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, must also be discussed because it gives rise to tensions that cannot be ignored.

Tomorrow's meeting will also provide an opportunity for Jean-Yves Le Drian to express, once again, France's concerns, as well as its willingness to hold a rigorous dialogue with Iran on each of these issues.

Furthermore, France pays close attention to respect for the rights and freedoms of the Iranian people in the context of the demonstrations that have been taking place in Iran since December 28. This is the position expressed by President Macron, which was reaffirmed during the meeting of the UN Security Council on January 5 in New York.

Syria – Humanitarian situation

France condemns the intense bombing carried out by aircraft belonging to Bashar al-Assad's regime and its allies in the region of Idlib over the last few days, especially those targeted against the civilian population and several hospitals. We reaffirm that the attacks deliberately targeting the health centers violate international law.

We express our deep concern at the humanitarian crisis following this new air and ground offensive in the region of Idlib. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee over the last few weeks.

France is outraged that hundreds of thousands of civilians in Eastern Ghouta are still under siege from the attacks carried out by Bashar al-Assad's regime, which is refusing to allow the emergency medical evacuation of hundreds of people, including many children.

We demand that the commitments made in Astana be upheld in order to put an end to the violence as swiftly as possible. Full, safe and unrestricted humanitarian access to all populations in need must be ensured immediately.

This further deterioration of the situation in several regions in Syria underscores the urgent need for a political solution within the framework of UNSCR 2254.

Israel/Palestinian Territories – Murder of an Israeli near Havat Gilad

France condemns yesterday evening's attack near a settlement in the West Bank that left one Israeli dead.

It offers its condolences to the victim's family.

What is your reaction to the Israeli measures prohibiting NGOs accused of boycotting Israel from entering the country?

France's position on the boycott is well known: it prohibits the boycott against Israel as it does all discrimination against individuals or groups of people because of origin or nationality.

That said, we hope that the NGOs will be afforded access to both Israeli and Palestinian territory.

France reaffirms its support for the role of civil society as a vital component of any democracy. It urges Israel, a democracy committed to respecting freedom and fundamental rights, to refrain from taking any measures that could hinder the freedom of expression and the work of civil society.

Burma/Myanmar – Press freedom

France expresses its concern over the detention and indictment of two journalists from the Reuters news agency, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who face up to 14 years in prison. They were arrested on December 12, 2017, while preparing a report on the situation in Rakhine State.

We call for the respect of their fundamental rights, their immediate release by the Burmese authorities, and free media access to Rakhine State.

France reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the freedom of the press and freedom of expression worldwide. Journalists must be able to freely exercise their profession without fear of intimidation or arrest.

Respect for these freedoms is a cornerstone of any democratic society.

United Nations – Adoption of a resolution to protect the high seas - Joint communiqué

On December 24, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 72/249 on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, minister for Europe and foreign affairs, and Nicolas Hulot, minister for the ecological and inclusive transition, welcome the adoption of this resolution which enshrines 10 years of work by the international community on the sea and is in line with global commitments taken in 2017 to protect the marine environment.

This resolution will make it possible to begin negotiations in 2018 on the timely adoption of an international agreement to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in international waters. In particular, the agreement should allow for the establishment of marine protected areas in the high seas, environmental impact assessments, the establishment of a system for sharing the benefits of marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdictions, and capacity building for countries of the South.

This decision acknowledges the need to consider the oceans a fragile environment whose protection is the responsibility of all, and which requires the adoption of universally binding rules. In particular, these measures must allow the ocean to continue playing its role as a global climate regulator. They must also guarantee a more sustainable management of the many resources offered by the ocean.

France has made the protection of marine biodiversity one of its foreign policy priorities, which it promotes in the negotiation of international agreements.

France in the
United States
Embassy of France in Washington, D.C.
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