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M. Kouchner's Visit to Washington

M. Kouchner’s Visit to Washington

Published on February 6, 2009
Visit to the United States of America – Statements by M. Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, during his joint press briefing with Mrs Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States

Washington, February 5, 2009

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AFGHANISTAN

Q. – Did you talk in detail about Franco-American cooperation in Afghanistan? Could you be more specific on this?

THE MINISTER – We did indeed talk a lot about Afghanistan because it’s an important issue. We’re determined to go on supporting the Afghans on the ground, as we’re already doing.

In fact, not enough is said about the Allies’ successes in Afghanistan. There are successes for the Afghan people when it comes to education, health and the way agriculture is organized. As far as education is concerned, two million girls go to school in Afghanistan and Mrs Clinton was kind enough to allude to my personal involvement in that country. Let me tell you that back then it wasn’t possible, even in our dreams, to imagine two million girls being able to go to school. Afghanistan will obviously be one of President Obama’s toughest and most important tasks, even though there are other issues. There’s of course the financial crisis which is affecting the whole world, you here in the United States like us in France.

As regards Afghanistan, I think that the key word is what I call "Afghanization". It means we have to give the Afghan people control over their own destiny, moving in the direction of the progress already made here with the increased power of the institutions. They have elected their own government. They’ve got a Parliament whose representatives have also been elected, some of them are women – things we would not have even dreamt of a while ago. So we must get through to the Afghans the fact they have control of their own progress and their own future. They have something to prove for their families and for their future in one of the world’s poorest countries where 80% of the population work on the land. I think that’s what we have to do.

So we have decided to go on working together. It isn’t a simple task. In particular, there are issues to do with security but, with our allies, we’ve decided that this is the path to follow and we’ll make progress along these lines.

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS/HAMAS

Q. – Tony Blair has stated that Hamas should be brought into the peace process. Do you agree?

THE MINISTER – As you know, we’ve said it several times: we haven’t got any official contacts with Hamas. It’s impossible for the moment. Of course, we have indirect contacts through our support for the Egyptian initiative. The Egyptians, Turks, Norwegians and Russians have contacts, especially the Egyptians because they are talking to Hamas at the moment.

Why aren’t we talking officially to Hamas? Because they aren’t part of the peace process. We’ll certainly talk to them when they agree to start talking to the other Palestinians, the PLO, and when they accept the peace process, the PLO’s signature on the Palestinian-Israeli documents and principally the Arab Peace Initiative. Tony Blair was right to say that. In Gaza, if you can’t mount a joint effort to get access to the civilians or a national unity government, it will be difficult. I know this, we know this./.


To read the complete transcript of the joint press briefing, click here

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