The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - April 12, 2019
In this issue:

◢  United Nations / Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle's candidacy for the position of FAO director-general – Hearings in Rome (April 11, 2019)

◢  Iran – Increased emergency humanitarian assistance in response to extreme weather (April 12, 2019)

◢  Situation of Julian Assange

◢  Libya

◢  Israel

◢  Iran

United Nations / Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle's candidacy for the position of FAO director-general – Hearings in Rome (April 11, 2019)

The hearings for the four candidates for the position of FAO director-general took place on April 11.

The candidate presented by France and backed by the EU, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, demonstrated her competence and her vision of an FAO that has the capacity to expand cooperation and investment in order to create jobs in rural areas, transform food systems in order to make them more sustainable and efficient, and deliver robust, innovative solutions based on science and tailored to local contexts.

As the candidate reaffirmed, the FAO is a major UN agency which must remain our "common home" where everyone feels listened to and respected.

The hearing was attended by Didier Guillaume, Minister of Agriculture and Food, who came to demonstrate the support of the president and all members of the French government for the candidacy of Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, the first female candidate for this position.

Together, France, the member states and the EU provide approximately 40% of the FAO's budget, and implement technical, scientific and financial cooperation initiatives to the benefit of the countries that are unparalleled in terms of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Iran – Increased emergency humanitarian assistance in response to extreme weather (April 12, 2019)

While the extreme weather in Iran is continuing to have a heavy impact on the local populations, France has decided to increase its emergency humanitarian assistance.

Following the initial shipment of humanitarian cargo which arrived in Tehran yesterday, an additional shipment will leave today on a charter flight specially arranged by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs' Crisis and Support Center (CDCS). In total, the emergency assistance sent by France amounts to 26 tons of humanitarian cargo, including family tents, motor pumps, blankets and cooking kits.

The CDCS is coordinating France's response within the framework of the European Civil Protection Mechanism. The Embassy of France in Tehran is liaising with the local authorities in order to prepare for the reception of France's humanitarian assistance, which will be released to the Iranian Red Cross.

France again expresses its wholehearted solidarity with the Iranian people and extends its condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

Situation of Julian Assange

What is your response to the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his possible extradition to the United States?

Can France offer him asylum, as some French political leaders are calling for?

We have no comment to make with respect to a legal matter.


What is your response to the decision by the LNA's chief military prosecutor to issue arrest warrants for Fayez al-Sarraj and other civilian and military GNA leaders, notably for "treason," "support for terrorist groups” and "conspiracy with foreign countries"?

We regret this decision.

In her communiqué yesterday, the EU high representative expressed the concern of all EU member states, including France, with respect to the involvement in fighting of groups led by figures included on the UN list of individuals involved in terrorist activities, as well as criminal groups.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica claims that envoys of General Haftar were received in Paris on April 4 a few hours before the start of the LNA offensive on Tripoli. Who were they, who did they meet in Paris and did they inform the French authorities of their military plans, as the newspaper reports?

Like our partners, we are talking to all parties to the conflict in Libya in order to secure a ceasefire. We were not warned of an offensive on Tripoli, which we condemned as soon as it was launched.

Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Libya on March 18 and 19 to encourage Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and General Hafter to finalize a political agreement on the principles they agreed upon in Abu Dhabi, and to reaffirm France's full support for the mediation efforts led by UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé.

France aligned itself with its American, British, Italian and UAE partners on all of the statements calling for a cessation of hostilities. It is mobilizing its efforts at the UN Security Council, within the framework of the G7 and the EU.

President Macron spoke with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and General Haftar in order to reaffirm our priorities, namely the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of dialogue, as well as support for UN mediation efforts to relaunch the political process.


A few days ago, the Israeli authorities gave the green light to the construction of new homes in settlements. What is your response?

France's position is constant. France is attached to the solution of two states living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital. Settlement activity is contrary to international humanitarian law and undermines the conditions for just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

This is why we condemn the decision by the Israeli authorities on April 4 to authorize the construction of more than 4,000 homes in settlements in the West Bank.

France calls on the Israeli authorities to abandon any plans that could jeopardize the possibility of a two-state solution.


Following the U.S. decision to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization and given that the Revolutionary Guards play an important role in Iran's economy, are you advising French firms that want to do business in Iran to revise their plans?

Economic relations with Iran are regulated by the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA), which determines the scope of legal or illegal operations, reflected by EU regulations. Following the U.S. decision to withdraw from the agreement and to reimpose sanctions, which we regretted, Europe decided to take action to preserve the agreement as long as Iran continues to uphold its obligations.

It was in this context that France, Germany and the United Kingdom established the INSTEX financial compensation mechanism which should facilitate financial transactions for firms that wish to maintain trade relations with Iran, while respecting European law.

At the same time, destabilizing behavior calls for targeted pressure. As such, individuals and entities associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards are subject to EU sanctions because of terrorism offences. The organization, as well as individuals and entities linked to this organization, have also been subject to EU sanctions since 2010 because of their support for Iran's ballistic missile program.

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