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Visit to Lebanon

Published on May 26, 2010
Press conference given by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs (excerpts)

Beirut, May 24, 2010

(…)

SYRIA/LEBANON

Q. – (on Syria and Lebanon)

THE MINISTER – There seems to be something new, it concerns the full implementation of UNSCR 1701. As you know, we, France with her soldiers, are part of UNIFIL. Since 2006, since the last conflict, we’ve had the opportunity of demonstrating that we were useful. I honestly believe everyone now thinks so. Is this enough? No, but at any rate, constant attention needs to be paid to the resolution’s implementation, particularly when it comes to the borders. Not everything is perfect, far from it.

Q. – Is there Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs?

THE MINISTER – When we began – François Fillon’s government with President Sarkozy – we didn’t have relations or at least had only limited and reduced relations with Syria. Today, we’ve got open bilateral relations, haven’t we? Since the commencement of these relations, we can at least point to the recognition of the Lebanese State, with the appointment of an ambassador. Is it enough? No; yet it was inconceivable a few years ago. So, on balance, things are moving in the right direction. Is it perfect? Certainly not. Has UNSCR 1701 been fully implemented? Again, certainly not.

Consequently, one of the reasons for my visit is, as it is every time, to reiterate that we should, with everyone’s help, try and ensure that this resolution, which I talked to Ban Ki-moon about a short while ago, is fully implemented. I believe that this is a new chapter and that the Syrians are now playing a political role – you are right – which didn’t and, in particular couldn’t, exist before. Is it perfect vis-à-vis Iran? Is it perfect vis-à-vis many other problems? We can’t say. It’s nevertheless a major step forward and I think the Syrians realize this.

The French and Syrians welcome their relationship. You know, we started and the Americans followed. [We hope] this drop in tension – we did, nevertheless, note a little bit of tension – is capable of getting a Syrian-Israeli peace process moving again.

IRAN/UNSC/SANCTIONS

Q. – (on the draft Iran sanctions resolution at the UNSC)

THE MINISTER – You wouldn’t have imagined, even 10 or 20 days ago, that the Chinese or Russians would sign it. Well they have! But this isn’t the end of it! At the same time, thanks to Brazil and Turkey a more positive prospect is opening up. So things are beginning to get moving again a little bit. It’s what I call the beginning of a clarification. Is it enough? I hope so without being convinced.

Three resolutions have been passed. Each time the scenario has been the same. We thought everything was at a standstill and then, at a certain point, Russia and China agreed. That’s what happened. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but we didn’t think it would happen so soon. We thought the discussions would be longer and tougher.

There’s genuine agreement among us not to add to the antagonistic situations in the Middle East an extra dimension of nuclear proliferation. I think that’s clear. (…)./.

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