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Syria – Iran/nuclear issue

Published on June 1, 2012
Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to France 3 (excerpts)

Paris, May 29, 2012

SYRIA

Q. – (…) You’re talking today about Kofi Annan’s mission being tough, as well it might be. After the Houla deaths, isn’t this mission dead in the water?

THE MINISTER – No. I had Kofi Annan on the telephone for a long time on Sunday and we discussed this mission. It isn’t easy. There are 300 observers on the ground and I think we have to see the process through to the end. If we see that there’s a failure, we’ll of course take note of it, but absolutely everything must be done to stop the violence, the massacres, and this is Kofi Annan’s mission. I might add that he’s passing through Lebanon, which seems to me extremely important because Lebanon is threatened in this conflict too.

Q. – In Le Monde this afternoon you declare that Bashar al-Assad is a murderer of his people; are you sticking by this?

THE MINISTER – Of course.

Q. – When you were saying this mission isn’t a failure, can you have a successful mission and a head of state who’s shooting his fellow citizens?

THE MINISTER – It’s a strong way of putting it, but I think it reflects the way things are and what a lot of people feel. Mr Bashar al-Assad is a murderer, so he has to leave power. The sooner the better.

Obviously everything possible must be done. As you know, at the moment the Russians and Chinese are blocking things at the United Nations Security Council, but there’s Kofi Annan’s mission. If we can go further, we will, and France will be among the first to ask for stronger sanctions and ensure that Russia, if we can persuade her, moves in the right direction and to try and rally the opposition, because we’ve already got to be thinking about what will happen after Bashar al-Assad.

Q. – This evening President Hollande told our France 2 colleagues that a military intervention is possible, but in the framework of a Security Council debate. Meaning it won’t take place because, as we already know, the Russians and Chinese will oppose and veto it?

THE MINISTER – No, that isn’t a given. Our general principle is to act within the framework of the United Nations Security Council. Obviously, it isn’t easy to persuade people – the Russians and Chinese in particular – but there’s an international system and we’ve got to respect it. This is what President Hollande said. We’re of course open to anything which will be effective in driving Mr Bashar al-Assad from power, but this must be done in the United Nations framework. (…)

IRAN/NUCLEAR ISSUE

Q. – As regards Iran, don’t you think Westerners on the whole are naïve in believing that the Iranian regime – which tells lies, manipulates and plays for time – is going to give up its nuclear programme?

THE MINISTER – No, we aren’t naïve, certainly not. We want to make use of two channels. On the one hand, sanctions, extremely tough sanctions against Iran, and, at the same time, the opening of negotiation channels.

We agreed, including with the Russians and Chinese, to adopt a joint position. The recent meeting which took place didn’t produce any results but the next one takes place in Moscow.

We’ve got to be clear: we won’t tolerate Iran possessing a nuclear weapon for military purposes because this would be highly dangerous for the region. (…)./.

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