The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - March 15, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Visit by Jean-Yves Le Drian to Rome – Rome II conference and UNRWA ministerial conference (March 15, 2018)

◢  Italy – Visit by Nathalie Loiseau and Brune Poirson to Milan and Parma (March 15 and 16, 2018)

◢  Syria – Seventh year of war (March 15, 2018)

Visit by Jean-Yves Le Drian to Rome – Rome II conference and UNRWA ministerial conference (March 15, 2018)

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, is in Rome today to take part in the ministerial conference in support of UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) as well as the Rome II conference in support of the Lebanese security forces.

1. UNRWA ministerial conference

Jean-Yves Le Drian will reaffirm France's unwavering support for UNRWA and will announce financial support measures. He will underscore the importance of the reforms carried out by UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, whom he received in Paris on March 7 and will call on the entire international community to mobilize its efforts to enable UNRWA to continue to fulfill its mission to support Palestinian refugees.

Mr. Le Drian will also highlight the need to achieve a definitive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the two-state solution, which also requires seeking a just and lasting solution to the refugee issue. He will reaffirm France's determination to play its full role in the efforts needed to relaunch the peace process.

This conference, organized on the initiative of Sweden, Egypt and Jordan, is aimed at reaffirming the international community's support for UNRWA, which provides essential aid to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees. It should, in particular, provide solutions to the financial difficulties facing UNWRA in order to ensure that its programs can continue.

2. Rome II Conference

The meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon on December 8, 2017, reaffirmed the international community's unanimous commitment to the country's stability and sovereignty. Three ministerial conferences in support of the Lebanese state and its institutions were announced for 2018 during this meeting.

The first of these conferences is taking place today in Rome. This conference, organized by Italy, will provide the international community with the opportunity to strengthen its support for the Lebanese army and the country's Internal Security Forces, based on the needs that they identify. The strengthening of these institutions, which form the pillars of the Lebanese state, is a major security challenge for Lebanon, whose stability is essential to the Middle East, as well as Europe.

During this conference, Jean-Yves Le Drian will announce a French contribution commensurate with this challenge and our long-standing and close cooperation with Lebanon. France is one of the main partners of the Lebanese army and the Internal Security Forces, notably in the fight against terrorism. It is also committed to the country's security within the framework of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), to which it is one of the main contributors, providing 664 French troops. Within UNIFIL, France lends support to the Lebanese army in its efforts to strengthen its presence in the south of the country, which is necessary in order to allow the Lebanese government to exercise its sovereignty throughout the Lebanese territory.

France is also determined to contribute to Lebanon's stability by supporting its economic development. That is why on April 6, it will host the CEDRE Conference in Paris to rally international support for Lebanon through reforms, and working with businesses. And finally, it will take part in the Brussels II Humanitarian Conference, which will end the three-conference cycle of support for Lebanon in the year 2018.

Italy – Visit by Nathalie Loiseau and Brune Poirson to Milan and Parma (March 15 and 16, 2018)

With several food-security-related crises and controversies undermining the confidence of the French in the European health-risk assessment and management system, the Government in line with the President's commitments in his speech at the Sorbonne wants to draw the conclusions of recent debates on such substances as glyphosate.

In a joint approach, Nathalie Loiseau, minister of state for European Affairs, and Brune Poirson, minister of state attached to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, will be in Parma on March 16 to meet with the management board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to examine ways to improve the independence and transparency of European assessments of chemical substances.

Nathalie Loiseau and Brune Poirson will be accompanied by deputies Sabine Thillaye, chair of the European Affairs Committee at the National Assembly, Pierre-Alexandre Anglade, Bruno Bonnell, and Elisabeth Toutut-Picard.

At the invitation of university president Mario Monti, Ms. Loiseau will speak at Bocconi University in Milan on reforming Europe.

Syria – Seventh year of war (March 15, 2018)

We condemn the ongoing fighting in Ghouta, in clear violation of Security Council resolution 2401, which requires all parties to the conflict and throughout the territory to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities; secure, ongoing and unhindered humanitarian access; and medical evacuations that guarantee the security of patients and their families. Civilians and civilian infrastructures continue to be deliberately targeted, in defiance of international humanitarian law.

In this time of dread, such fighting ushers in the seventh anniversary of the Syrian Revolution. Since 2011, the regime's repression has caused the death of nearly half a million people, sent 5.4 Syrians on the paths of exile, and caused major destruction.

France has worked tirelessly to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, under the auspices of the UN, the only way to bring an end to the conflict. It continues to work with its partners and within international bodies, particularly the UN, to end the suffering of the Syrian people, facilitate its access to humanitarian aid, and create an environment facilitating the establishment of a credible political process under the auspices of the UN and in accordance with Security Council resolution 2254.

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