The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - February 6, 2018
In this issue:

◢  South Korea – Visit by Jean-Yves Le Drian (Pyeongchang – February 9-11, 2018)

◢  9th World Urban Forum: Cities 2030, Cities for all: Implementing the New Urban Agenda (Kuala Lumpur – February 7-13, 2018)

◢  International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (February 6, 2018)

◢  Syria

South Korea – Visit by Jean-Yves Le Drian (Pyeongchang – February 9-11, 2018)

Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit South Korea from February 9 to 11. He will represent President Macron at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, together with Laura Flessel, Minister of Sport. France supports the holding of the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, a historic moment for Korea, and offers wishes for a successful Winter Games.

During his visit, Jean-Yves Le Drian will meet with his counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, on February 10 to discuss the North Korean nuclear crisis. We hope that the recent developments in inter-Korean dialogue will lead to discussions with a view toward achieving the denuclearization of the peninsular. The ministers will also discuss our cooperation on major global issues (notably including the fight against terrorism and efforts to combat climate change) and the prospects for strengthening our bilateral relations in the economic sphere (innovation and cross investment), academic and scientific cooperation (student mobility) and security and defense cooperation. South Korea is our 4th largest trading partner in Asia (€7.3 billion in trade in 2016, with France having a trade surplus since 2011.)

In Seoul, Jean-Yves Le Drian will open the ceremony to mark the launch of the construction of the new Embassy of France. He will also meet with the French business community and South Korean investors.

9th World Urban Forum: Cities 2030, Cities for all: Implementing the New Urban Agenda (Kuala Lumpur – February 7-13, 2018)

25,000 participants from 164 countries are expected to visit Kuala Lumpur from February 7-13 for the World Urban Forum. This biennial event, which has been organized by UN-Habitat since 2002, is the main international summit on territorial development. It brings together all public, private and non-governmental actors working to improve living conditions in cities.

France will be represented at the forum by a delegation of almost 60 government, local authority, business, research, and NGO representatives brought together within the French Alliance for Cities and Territorial Development. It will be led by representatives of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, and the Ministry for Territorial Cohesion.

Within the framework of the "New Urban Agenda" adopted in Quito in 2016 during the Habitat III conference organized by the UN, the World Urban Forum will provide an opportunity for participants to testify to the practical implementation of the commitments and share their experiences. The meeting in Kuala Lumpur will therefore provide an opportunity for the French stakeholders to present the diversity of their potential capabilities and to showcase their expertise and know-how. A French pavilion will enable French professionals to present their operational solutions and best practices in these key areas, at the economic as well as social and environmental levels.

Five million new urban-dwellers arrive in developing cities every month, the equivalent of a city of 1.2 million inhabitants every week. More than a billion of them currently live in slum areas. If nothing is done, the figure will rise to 3 billion by 2050. Global housing stock must almost double by 2050. An estimated $57,000 billion in global infrastructure will be required by 2030.

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International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (February 6, 2018)

On this International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, France calls on the international community to step up its efforts to end these degrading practices and the violation of girls’ and women's rights. Even today, more than 200 million women living in 30 countries have been mutilated and an estimated 3 million girls aged 15 or less are subjected to mutilation each year.

France champions the rights of girls and women worldwide.

Since 2012 and the launch of the G8 initiative on maternal and newborn health, it supports the prevention and care for women subjected to gender-based violence through the French Muskoka Fund, for example.

France is also taking action by funding awareness-raising actions such as the television series "C'est-la-Vie," which has been co-financed by France since 2012 and aired on 44 national African channels.


What are the next steps planned by France and Turkey in their project to develop a diplomatic roadmap for Syria? Is the meeting of like-minded countries announced by President Macron during the visit by his Turkish counterpart to Paris still planned for February in Turkey?

France and Turkey regularly discuss the Syrian crisis at every level. These discussions also relate to the Turkish operation under way in Afrin, in regard to which France has called on Turkey to exercise restraint.

Only a political solution consistent with UN Security Council resolution 2254 is capable of ensuring Syria's stability and Turkey's security. We intend to work closely with Turkey, a key country in this regard, as well as with other "like-minded" countries.

Was the red line set by President Macron crossed in recent days, following reports of repeated chlorine and sarin chemical attacks in Syria?

France is concerned by several reports of the repeated use of chlorine against civilian populations in Syria in recent weeks. We and our partners are carefully studying the information that reaches us and are awaiting expert assessments from operational international investigative mechanisms, and first and foremost, that of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM).

It is still early at this stage to confirm the chemical nature and scope of these attacks.

France is committed to preserving the chemical non-proliferation regime. In this capacity, on January 23 it launched an international partnership against impunity for the use of chemical weapons. Twenty-four states and organizations signed on to demonstrate their rejection of impunity for the perpetrators of chemical attacks.

Syria is by far the most troubling theater in this regard. The Syrian armed forces have been acknowledged as responsible by international mechanisms and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The Syrian regime and its backers must abide by all of their international commitments in this area.

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