THE MINISTER – Ladies and gentlemen, I was happy to meet Mr Zalmai Rassoul here in Paris again. Since we first met, we’ve established a very friendly, direct, frank and constructive relationship. When the person you’re talking to speaks fluent French, that makes things still easier and facilitates dialogue.
I presented to Mr Rassoul and his delegation the French proposal for a friendship and cooperation treaty between France and Afghanistan, which President Sarkozy announced during his visit to Kabul in July this year.
This treaty will now be examined by the Afghans. I hope it can be signed, if all the conditions are met, before the Bonn conference in December. It contains a whole series of specific security proposals for military training, police training, the creation of an Afghan gendarmerie, in the areas of agriculture, education, research, health and infrastructure development.
The treaty demonstrates France’s determination to support Afghanistan with her - , particularly economic – reconstruction beyond 2014. I also welcome the fact that, thanks to international civilian aid, very significant progress has already been made in Afghanistan.
Today, 85% of the Afghan population has access to essential treatment; it was 8% in 2002. Child mortality has fallen by more than 25%; more than a third of the seven million pupils at school in Afghanistan are now girls; 5,000 schools have been renovated or built since 2002. France has taken part in this effort in these different fields.
Furthermore, we’ve confirmed the process embarked on in Lisbon with the gradual transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan army.
France hopes that in the second phase, soon to be decided upon, the case of Surobi can be dealt with in such a way that we can implement the decisions announced by President Sarkozy.
We’ll meet again in Istanbul. France has also raised the idea of regional cooperation in order to better guarantee Afghanistan’s security in the future, on shared foundations. This meeting is currently being prepared, and I hope it will also enable us to take significant steps. (…)./.