Skip to main content

UK/France – Iran/nuclear issue – Israel/peace flotilla

Published on June 8, 2010
Statements by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, during his joint press briefing with William Hague, British Foreign Secretary

Paris, June 6, 2010

THE MINISTER – Good evening. It has been my pleasure to receive my colleague, William Hague, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary. I’m very satisfied with the meeting I had with him and pleased that he thought of visiting our country before going to Rome and other European countries. We discussed – I’ll leave it to him to give you the list and perhaps talk about them in greater detail – a number of subjects of interest to both the United Kingdom and France, which – unfortunately! – have been current issues for years.

We talked about Afghanistan, Somalia, the Middle East and Europe, and we discussed the programme for the next meeting of the foreign affairs ministers. We also talked about the part we could both play. So I’ll let William Hague tell you about that.

I was very happy and I thank William very much for visiting us, for this sincere discussion. We have common interests in all the issues that we mentioned. Once again, welcome to you and your team!



Q. – Concerning Iran, can you confirm that there will be a vote in the UN this week?

THE MINISTER – I don’t know, we were supposed to present a joint text on 13 June. We were to, we had hoped that the vote could take place on 13 June, but this is also dependent on the response that those involved have to give to the International Atomic Energy Agency. This does not apply to our British friends, but to the Russians, Americans and French who were to respond to the letter the Iranians, Brazilians and Turks sent to the Agency.

We have this letter, it’s ready. There may be some delays but, give or take a few days, the letter should be sent and the resolution presented in the Security Council next week.

Q. – Is the reply negative for the three countries you mentioned, the United States, France and Russia? Is it a negative reply to the IAEA letter?

THE MINISTER – Wait for the letter! I don’t think it’s too positive but, please, let’s first allow an agreement to be reached.


Q. – Israel announced today that she would refuse any independent international investigation after what happened with the flotilla. I would like to know your reaction to these statements.

THE MINISTER – Yes, William and I talked about the question of the necessary investigation. I share the feeling of my British colleague. I’ll also say that this investigation is necessarily international because several nations are involved. We pointed out that because it was the United Nations, it was up to the United Nations Secretary-General to choose the type of investigation. We talked about the International Red Cross and an inquiry that would be led by the United Nations but with a number of participants, who would need to be leading international figures. That’s where we are and we think that it’s very much in the interest of our Israeli friends that there should be a broad inquiry and therefore a necessarily international inquiry. It’s up to them to respond now. I believe that a fairly detailed proposal has been made by the Americans, French and United Nations. The response from our British friends is along the same lines.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, Gaza’s situation is not tenable. Gaza’s situation is untenable for the people who have been under siege there for so long. And who benefits from all that? The people who supply the tunnels, those who tax the products coming in, and things can’t go on like this.

I understand the need for arms control, William has just talked about this, we must all understand why there must be no more arms in this enclosed Gaza Strip. As you know, the European Union was given the task some time ago of monitoring the Rafah crossing: we can propose that the European Union reactivate the monitoring of the crossing. We can also easily monitor the cargoes of boats heading for Gaza. We can do this, we want to do it and we would do it very willingly. The European Union has to be more involved than it is, it does a lot, but it should be even more practically, politically and materially involved in the road to peace, taking advantage of the continuation of the proximity talks that must, I hope, go on producing positive elements.

There you are. These two proposals are made by the two British and French ministers. We must deal with this dramatic crisis, which has been a real shock for public opinion, so as to move forward on the road to peace.


Q. – (on the symbolic weight of the statements against Israel)


THE MINISTER – We don’t just make statements, sorry. Two years after the Paris Conference, we’re continuing, together with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, to put forward and develop projects.

Precisely in Gaza, we are conducting specific projects such as the Al Quds Hospital project, and the programme to install treatment plants in Betlaya. There are many projects, and they aren’t just statements. We don’t wish to offend anyone, but we, the whole world, are completely convinced and in agreement that the solution is to establish two States. We know the procedure, the path to follow, what are we waiting for? (…)./.

      top of the page