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France/United States

France/United States

Published on January 29, 2010
Statements by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, during his joint press conference with Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State (excerpts)

Paris, January, 29, 2010


THE MINISTER – We of course talked about Iran. There’s extremely clear agreement now, after all the attempts we’ve made, on proceeding in two directions: permanent dialogue with the Iranians, and sanctions. I believe we’ve done everything we possibly can with the 5+1. So we’ve got a common position on Iran, and the 5+1, as you know, is working – in New York as well as here in Europe – on sanctions we’ll be presenting to the Security Council. On this point we’re extremely satisfied with our Russian friends’ position and we’re working with our Chinese friends so this can be done. Final point, I remind you that we’ve already had three Security Council resolutions with sanctions; this isn’t new. So we haven’t given up hope of getting a fourth, even firmer one.


In the Middle East, we’ve also got a common policy, and we’re hoping to see the dialogue restart with a view to the birth of a Palestinian State living in security alongside an Israeli State. On this we’re very close to our American friends. And then we also devoted a bit of time to our relations with Syria.


We obviously talked about Haiti (…) especially because the emergency situation is still extremely worrying. We aren’t at the end of it yet. We are still in this emergency phase, but we have to think about the future; there’s common ground between Mrs Clinton’s ideas and mine. We can’t go on forever giving assistance and charity. For the reconstruction we have to find a plan we are going to work on together, the Americans and us, with the Brazilians, Europe, the Canadians, who organized the Montreal Conference, and Spain. We have decided to set up a working group which should meet very soon.


I welcome too the common United States and French position on Guinea. We will continue to press the need for a transitional government to organize, fairly soon, elections in which all the Guinean parties will participate.

This morning, with President Sarkozy, we talked about the G20 which we must work for and prepare together in 2011.


We also talked about our attitude vis-à-vis our Russian friends and discussed the reciprocal merits of Mr Medvedev and Mr Putin.


Finally, we have just talked about a very special point vis-à-vis our relations with Burma: we’re keen, in what is here too a joint policy, to try and get Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi – who is still under house arrest – to take part in the election the Junta have promised.

To sum up, I repeat the great pleasure we have had working in the past few days with Mrs Hillary Clinton, American Secretary of State.



Q. – Can you tell us if France supports the idea expressed by the United States and Germany that 2011 must be the start of the process of reducing military forces in Afghanistan? Is France also preparing to cut the number of her troops in 2011?

THE MINISTER – Thank you, Secretary of State. So I’m going to tell you, in reply to this question about 2011, that we, France, made a special effort 16 months ago to move from 1,000 to nearly 4,000 soldiers. We have the very specific responsibility for a section, north-east of Kabul, consisting of two important and difficult valleys. Apart from some adjustments, to do with security, if they proved necessary, as I said yesterday at the London conference, we have the necessary troops to carry out this task and we will do it as well as possible. (…)

When it comes to training, we have also decided, as the Secretary of State said, to allocate training personnel, perhaps in Kabul, to the armoured vehicle training centre. We have decided not to increase our combatant troops. With the Germans, at the meeting of our two governments in a few days’ time, we will have the opportunity to fine-tune our training policy and will do so willingly.

(…) President Karzai decided yesterday to reach out to his enemies, or at least do so in very general terms at the moment, and perhaps very specific ones in particular areas. I think there will be contacts, locally, which until now haven’t been possible. It’s something new which doesn’t prohibit us, on the contrary, from thinking that in 2011 – on President Obama’s side – as President Karzai said in his speech when he took up his second mandate, we’ll see at that point – but it’s impossible to say now – if we can withdraw some troops or if we have to adjust our presence as I said.

What’s very important is the civilian commitment vis-à-vis the population. Thank you for talking about Kabul hospital; I can tell you now: work will start on extending the maternity wing in a few days. The hospital’s surface area is to double. And then we’ll build a general hospital a bit further away; we have the site given by the Afghan President. The effort must be pursued; it will be in the civilian sphere and here we will make financial efforts. (…)./.

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