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Libya/Iran/ Nuclear energy/Syria

Published on September 8, 2011
Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign and European Spokesperson (Paris, September 5, 2011)

Libya

Can you confirm the reports in the Nigerien media that military vehicles belonging to the Libyan forces are in the process of crossing the border with Niger and that Nigerien soldiers could be helping the convoy by opening the roadblocks and checkpoints? Do you have any information about that? Also, what information do you have regarding the fact that the French government is apparently trying to make arrangements for Mr. Qaddafi’s exile?

We need to check.

[…]

Yes, there are movements of vehicles, but we don’t know where they’re moving to, or how many vehicles there are.

It’s common knowledge that France exerts a certain influence on Niger. If the arrival of Mr. Qaddafi and his sons in Niamey is confirmed, would you be prepared to exert pressure on the Nigerien government in order to prevent it from allowing the colonel and his sons to go somewhere else?

That’s a hypothetical question. Furthermore, it’s not up to us to say what the Nigerien authorities should or shouldn’t do. In this type of situation, everyone must assume their responsibilities. Regarding Libya, we assumed ours a long time ago and we’ve continuously done so.

I would like to reaffirm our priority. Beyond these speculations that have been of concern to us since last night – and I think we’ll know more about this convoy and these vehicles by the end of the day – our priority with respect to Libya is currently to help the Libyans to rebuild their country and to establish their democratic model. That was the objective of France’s mobilization during the Paris Conference last week. That’s the thrust of our mobilization.

Today my thoughts turn to all Libyan children, since it’s the start of the school year for them too. For thousands of Libyan children, the important thing is to succeed. That’s our priority. What I mean by that is that the important thing for us, beyond these speculations is to continue the mobilization process launched at the International Conference in Paris last week which will continue on September 20 at the General Assembly in New York. There will be another meeting like this to maintain, strengthen, expand this process launched by the international community to provide support to the new Libya. The priority is ensuring the rehabilitation of the country, the rehabilitation of hospital facilities, telecommunication services, the electricity and water supply services. The other priority is to continue the process in New York to unfreeze the Libyan assets since in order to rebuild the country and to have a more long-term vision, we need to recover the money that was subject to UN sanctions and to make it available to the new Libyan authorities in order to implement concrete projects. International cooperation must also be continued. That’s what we’re going to do in preparation for another meeting in New York.

[…]

Is Antoine Sivan now in Tripoli or is he still in Benghazi?

He’s still in Benghazi. We now have a team in Tripoli that’s been there for about 10 days and which has two missions. The first is a logistical mission – to restart our embassy’s operations. The second is demonstrating France’s presence in the Libyan capital.

Regarding Antoine Sivan, he should return to Tripoli shortly.
Have you made any representations regarding the treatment of Africans in Libya?

We’ve conveyed messages in line with President Sarkozy’s comments at the end of the Paris Conference last week and in line with our appeals for a peaceful transition. Furthermore, we expressed to the new Libyan authorities that France is attached to ensuring that these people, who are vulnerable both as a result of the conflict and due to their status as foreigners in Libya, are treated with care and respect.

We’ve indicated that we remain and will remain very vigilant with respect to this issue.

Will France make another request to unfreeze assets following the $1.5 billion that have been unfrozen?

Regarding these $1.5 billion we asked the UN Sanctions Committee for an exemption a few days ago in order to unfreeze Libyan assets. The United States, among other countries, is doing the same. We’ve therefore requested that this sum be unfrozen; this is in addition to other measures to unfreeze assets by other countries, which should make it possible to cover a lot of immediate and long-term needs. We’ll continue to work in this direction.

[…]

Iran/ Nuclear energy

Yesterday, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran mentioned the possibility of allowing the UN to observe its nuclear sites for 5 years in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. What’s your comment?

I reaffirm what we said following the IAEA’s report. When we’re faced with a country that is the subject of IAEA reports such as the one that’s just been issued, the priority is, above all, to demand that Iran comply with international law - in this case, six Security Council resolutions and 10 IAEA Board of Governors resolutions – and to demand that they do not engage in activities that are not only of concern to the international community but also jeopardize the international non-proliferation system and the stability of the region.

Again, we’re concerned because, as we speak, the Iranian centrifuges are spinning. We’re concerned about this in the same way that we’re concerned about the strength of Iran’s ballistic missile capacities, and Iran’s continued activities relating to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile. We reaffirm that we expect Iran to engage in constructive dialogue with the international community, in particular with the E3+3, which it is systematically refusing to do.

[…]

Syria

Regarding the two stages of the minister’s visit to China and Russia, what are you expecting in concrete terms from the leaders of these two countries regarding the situation in Syria? Have you developed arguments to convince these leaders to change their position at the UN?

It’s Bashar al-Assad who’s developing these arguments by continuing to massacre his people every day. […]

The UN Secretary-General has just launched a new appeal to the members of the Security Council urging them to assume their responsibilities. We’ve been underlining for a long time now how important it is for the Security Council to face up to reality and take action. It’s with this two-fold concern in mind that we’re continuing our work, as we indicated, at the Security Council in New York on the basis of a text, the terms of which we’re discussing with our Security Council partners, including indeed the Russians and the Chinese. We’ll be in Moscow tomorrow and we will of course talk about this during the Franco-Russian consultations and in particular during Mr. Juppé’s bilateral meeting with Mr. Lavrov.

[…]

At the Gymnich in Poland even more sanctions against Syria were discussed this weekend. Following the oil embargo what action can you still take against Syria? You’ve already cut off 25% of its revenue through the oil embargo. Will there be further sanctions against individuals and economic entities? Or are you considering something else? Where are you with the discussions?

As you point out, the 6th round of European sanctions has just been adopted by the Europeans in the last few days. This 6th round relates to Syrian oil exports. We’re working with our European partners on a 7th round of sanctions which I understand at this stage will target economic entities that, in one way or another, are associated with this daily crackdown against the demonstrators in Syria which has been going on for months now. For now we’re laying the groundwork and consulting with our European partners regarding this 7th round of sanctions.

The EU is preparing the 7th round of sanctions against Syria. Is France planning to demand that Total stop all activities in the oil industry in Syria, as the Netherlands did – unsuccessfully – with Shell? Alain Juppé talked about developing contacts with the Syrian opposition. How will that work?

The decisions taken by the 27 relate to oil exports. I understand that Total is involved in extraction along with other companies. You would need to ask Total’s management about their plans. We will, together with all our European partners, monitor compliance with the embargo on oil exports.

Regarding contacts with the Syrian opposition, we do of course have contacts. Alain Juppé talked about this at the Ambassadors’ Conference last week. In light of the situation that’s prevailing in Syria – where the crackdown goes as far as physical persecution, even torture, of people who only want to exercise their right of expression, I’m thinking in particular of the Syrian cartoonist who was tortured, where people who simply want to demonstrate on the streets are being killed –, you’ll understand that we’re being particularly and deliberately discrete about his contacts at this stage. It’s up to the Syrians themselves to speak out, to assume their responsibilities, to organize themselves, to express their views. As far as we’re concerned, we’re aware of the climate of persecution prevailing in this country. We’re thinking of the physical safety of the individuals concerned and also that of their families.
[…]

Iran/ Nuclear energy

Yesterday, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran mentioned the possibility of allowing the UN to observe its nuclear sites for 5 years in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. What’s your comment?

I reaffirm what we said following the IAEA’s report. When we’re faced with a country that is the subject of IAEA reports such as the one that’s just been issued, the priority is, above all, to demand that Iran comply with international law - in this case, six Security Council resolutions and 10 IAEA Board of Governors resolutions – and to demand that they do not engage in activities that are not only of concern to the international community but also jeopardize the international non-proliferation system and the stability of the region.
Again, we’re concerned because, as we speak, the Iranian centrifuges are spinning. We’re concerned about this in the same way that we’re concerned about the strength of Iran’s ballistic missile capacities, and Iran’s continued activities relating to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile. We reaffirm that we expect Iran to engage in constructive dialogue with the international community, in particular with the E3+3, which it is systematically refusing to do.

[…]

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