The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - February 8, 2019
In this issue:

◢  United Nations – Meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and the special envoy of the UN secretary-general for Syria (February 7, 2019)

◢  Ethiopia – Visit by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (February 9-10, 2019)

◢  Central African Republic – Signing of a peace agreement in Bangui (February 6, 2019)

◢  Syria

◢  Burkina Faso

◢  Khashoggi affair

United Nations – Meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and the special envoy of the UN secretary-general for Syria (February 7, 2019)

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, received the new special envoy of the UN secretary-general for Syria, Geir Pedersen, on February 7.

Following the meetings of the Global Coalition against Daesh and the Small Group in Washington, the minister and his interlocutor reviewed the security and humanitarian situation on the ground. They took stock of international efforts to find a negotiated solution to this conflict which has resulted in almost 500,000 deaths, more than 5 million refugees and more than 6 million displaced persons, and which continues to threaten the stability of the region and the security of Europe.

Jean-Yves Le Drian assured his interlocutor of France's full support for his mediation. He highlighted the following imperatives in particular:

  • the continuation until completion of the campaign by the Syrian Democratic Forces against Daesh, with the support of the Global Coalition against Daesh, and the fight against all terrorist groups identified as such by the UN Security Council;
  • the protection of civilians and safe and unrestricted access for the delivery of international humanitarian assistance to populations in need, notably in northeastern Syria, where there are grave uncertainties;
  • the search for a negotiated political solution, in accordance with UNSCR 2254, the only way to guarantee a lasting victory over Daesh and to allow the safe and voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes. This notably requires a constitutional reform and the holding of free and credible elections involving all Syrians, under UN supervision.

These are France's goals, in support of UN efforts and in collaboration with Syria's neighbors and all countries that have the capacity to influence the outcome of this crisis.

Ethiopia – Visit by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (February 9-10, 2019)

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, minister of state attached to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will be in Ethiopia on February 9-10.

He will meet with Markos Tekle, the Ethiopian state minister for foreign affairs, to make preparations for President Macron's visit to Ethiopia next month and to discuss—three months ahead of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's visit to France—the strengthening of our ties, especially in the economic and commercial arenas, and on cultural matters. Cooperation on defense and the momentum of Ethiopia's regional rapprochement effort will also be discussed.

During his visit, the minister will attend a high-level meeting on investing in health on the sidelines of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union (Feb. 10-11). Mr. Lemoyne will stress that France has long prioritized global health in its development policy, specifically through its unwavering support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (we are its second-biggest contributor), our support for the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), and our commitment to UNITAID (we are its largest contributor). He will emphasize that global health and especially the improvement of primary health care will be an important focus of France's G7 presidency.

Mr. Lemoyne will also represent France at the Board of Directors meeting of the African Renewable Energy Initiative. Launched by the heads of African nations at the COP21, it aims to establish new renewable energy capacities on the continent while providing universal access to sustainable energy. France strongly backed efforts to establish this Initiative and is its leading financial supporter.

Central African Republic – Signing of a peace agreement in Bangui (February 6, 2019)

On February 6, the government of the Central African Republic signed a peace agreement in Bangui with 14 armed groups.

France welcomes the signing of such an agreement and hails the decisive role played by the African Union in organizing and holding fruitful negotiations. It also thanks the UN and the countries of the region for their support.

We call on all the parties to implement this peace agreement swiftly and in good faith. We hope it will result in the restoration of state authority throughout the entire country and will lead to the disarmament and demobilization of armed groups.

The implementation of this agreement will require the international community's political, financial and technical backing. France stands ready, along with the CAR's partners, to provide its full support.


Can you confirm whether the option of leasing two U.S. Special Forces aircraft to bring back French citizens who went to Syria to fight for Islamic State is on the table?

We are examining all options to prevent the escape and dispersal of these potentially dangerous individuals. The safety of the French depends upon it. Thus far no option has been confirmed.

Burkina Faso

What is your response to the accusations by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that certain men neutralized by the Burkinabé authorities during an anti-terrorist operation were summarily executed in front of their loved ones?

We are unable to corroborate the facts reported by the NGO.

Khashoggi affair

Information gathered by the UN investigation team proves that the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the State of Saudi Arabia." Does France believe that the sanctions already taken against Saudi Arabia following this murder are sufficient?

France is aware of the initial observations by the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions concerning the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. These observations confirm that this is an extremely serious crime in which the facts must be clearly established and those responsible must be tried and punished.

That is what France has demanded since the beginning of this case, and it expects Saudi Arabia to provide a transparent, thorough and credible response to questions raised by the investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The President and the minister for Europe and foreign affairs have had several opportunities to explain this to the Saudi authorities.

That is why we are closely following the legal proceedings currently under way in Saudi Arabia and Turkey to shed light on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, as well as the work by the UN special rapporteur.

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