The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - September 13, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Visit by the minister for Europe and foreign affairs to China (September 13-14, 2018)

◢  South Sudan – Signing of a peace agreement (September 12, 2018)

◢  Libya – Sanctions imposed on Ibrahim Jadhran (September 12, 2018)

◢  Peru

◢  Chemical weapons

◢  Syria

◢  United Nations – Help for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East

Visit by the minister for Europe and foreign affairs to China (September 13-14, 2018)

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will visit China from September 13 to 14 for the 25th Joint Committee on Trade and Investment which he will co-chair together with Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, in the presence of Minister of State Delphine Geny-Stephann. He will also meet with Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Vice Premier Hu Chunhua and State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi.

This will be Jean-Yves Le Drian's third visit to China since the beginning of the year—he was accompanied by President Macron in January and the prime minister in June—, reflecting the priority France gives to its relations with China in order to strengthen collaboration on major international issues, strengthen our trade and develop human exchanges. It will provide an opportunity to discuss ways to facilitate, through concrete measures, access to the Chinese market for our firms, as well as cross investment, notably following the lifting of the embargo on French beef in June. The minister will also discuss the development of industrial cooperation in the priority areas for our two countries, particularly in the nuclear and aerospace sectors.

The major international and regional issues will also be discussed, notably the Iranian issue, the situation in Syria, the preservation of the non-proliferation regime, and the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile program. Jean-Yves Le Drian will discuss with his interlocutors the reform of the WTO in the run-up to the next G20 summit, the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and the negotiations on the adoption of a Global Pact for the Environment ahead of the One Planet Summit on September 26 and COP 24.

China is France's sixth largest trading partner and our largest client in Asia. France is the second most popular destination outside of Asia for Chinese tourists (2.1 million in 2017). China is now the second largest country of origin of foreign students in France (37,000, including 28,000 taking extended courses) and French students make up the largest contingent of European students in China (10,000).

South Sudan – Signing of a peace agreement (September 12, 2018)

France welcomes the signing of the peace agreement formalizing the revitalization of the 2015 agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan, between President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, and Riek Machar.

We congratulate the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the countries of the region for their contribution to this progress.

We hope that this agreement will open a new chapter in the process of establishing of peace.

We call on each of the parties to work toward implementing this agreement and will continue to support all of the countries in the region in their efforts to achieve this goal.

Libya – Sanctions imposed on Ibrahim Jadhran (September 12, 2018)

France welcomes the adoption by the UN Security Council on September 12 of individual sanctions against Libyan national Ibrahim Jadhran, who caused serious harm to Libya's prosperity and stability as a result of the armed attacks that he led, notably against the LNA forces ensuring the security of the oil crescent.

France reaffirms that the oil resources, which are vital for Libya, must remain under the exclusive control of the legitimate National Oil Corporation and the sole oversight of the Government of National Accord, for the benefit of all Libyans, in a spirit of integrity and equity.

France supports all initiatives within the framework of UN mediation which contribute to inter-Libyan reconciliation and the country's stabilization. As such, it will continue to support, together with its various partners, the adoption of sanctions against individuals and entities that pose a threat to Libya's peace, stability and security and which obstruct the political process and do not comply with the bans on illegal crude and refined oil exports, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions 2146 (2014), 2174 (2014), 2213 (2015) and 2259 (2015).

This progress reflects the efforts of the international community to support the work of Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Ghassan Salamé to implement a political solution in accordance with the commitments made in Paris on May 29 by the key Libyan actors.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and the Italian foreign minister expressed doubts yesterday about the holding of elections on December 10. Do you think that the calendar is still realistic given the security context?

France is convinced that the only way to ensure the long-term stabilization of Libya is through a political solution, under UN authority. This is the goal of the road map set out by Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Ghassan Salamé and the purpose of the commitments made in Paris on May 29 by the key Libyan actors. It also reflects the determination of the Libyan people, who turned out in overwhelming numbers to register to vote.

France will continue, together with its partners, to support the efforts of the Libyan authorities and the UN to keep the political process moving and in particular to ensure the conditions for the holding of elections by the end of the year.


Can you confirm that a former Shining Path leader, Moises Limaco, who was given a life sentence in Peru, is currently in France? According to Lima, he left the country in June and was heading to France.

We have no information on this person and suggest you refer your question to the Justice Ministry.

Chemical weapons

On September 14, 2013, the United States and Russia agreed on a plan to eliminate chemical weapons. On the eve of the fifth anniversary of that agreement, how do you assess its implementation? Does this agreement remain important to the resolution of the Syria conflict?

The 2013 Russian-American agreement endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2118 required the Syrian regime to destroy all of its chemical weapons stockpiles. It was soon undermined by the discovery, in 2014, that Syria was continuing to use chemical weapons, even though it had announced the complete destruction of its arsenal.

We believe that Syria has retained clandestine capabilities. The OPCW has continually underscored its doubts as to the sincerity of the initial Syrian statement about its stockpiles, made in 2013 in connection with this agreement.

The responsibility of the Syrian armed forces and security forces in multiple cases of chemical weapons use leaves no doubt. The UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) confirmed their responsibility for the use of chlorine on three occasions, and once for the use of sarin.

We regret that on three occasions, Russia opposed UN Security Council draft resolutions sanctioning Syria for the violation of its commitments, and that it also opposed the renewal of the JIM mechanism, depriving us of an instrument that is vital to fact-finding and the attribution of responsibilities in Syria.

France will continue to enforce red lines with respect to the use of chemical weapons, in close cooperation with its closest partners. As Jean-Yves Le Drian noted, the proven, verified, lethal use of these weapons will trigger the same consequences as last April.


The minister said yesterday that we can't rule out the possibility of war crimes in Idlib. If that is the case, what does Paris plan to do about it? Has a UN initiative been planned?

France is concerned by the evolution of the situation in Idlib. We regret that the countries that had agreed to guarantee a de-escalation did not manage to reach a ceasefire agreement. A large-scale offensive in Idlib would have disastrous consequences. It would result in a major new humanitarian and migratory disaster as it could directly threaten the three million civilians in the area, as quantified by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

We cannot rule out the risk of war crimes because the regime's and Russia's air strikes in recent days lead us to fear the worst for civilian populations.

We are particularly vigilant with respect to the prospect of the Syrian regime's renewed use of chemical weapons. As the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs has reiterated, France will continue to enforce its red lines with respect to the use of chemical weapons and will stand ready to act in the event of a verified, lethal use of these weapons, in close cooperation with its closest partners. In any case, France will continue to mobilize along with its partners to combat impunity for the use of chemical weapons, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in Syria.

We call on the guarantors to continue their discussions to preserve the ceasefire. In this regard, France supports the calls for dialogue by the UN secretary-general and his special envoy, Staffan de Mistura, as well as their demands to protect the civilian population.

As President Macron reiterated, the only credible, lasting solution to the Syrian conflict is an inclusive, negotiated political solution acceptable to all the parties, under the authority of the UN and consistent with Security Council Resolution 2254.

United Nations – Help for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East

How does Paris envision helping UNRWA emerge from the current crisis?

For 70 years, UNRWA—whose services benefit more than five million people—has been helping provide a minimum standard of living and dignity to Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. It helps provide support for host countries and for regional stability. Its education efforts, in particular, offer a bulwark against despair and radicalization.

As noted by the President and the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France is engaged in efforts to create a collective response to help UNRWA emerge from the crisis it is in and to improve its effectiveness. This year, France boosted its contribution and is studying new possibilities for financial support—particularly for UNRWA's work on behalf of education—in conjunction with its European and regional partners.

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