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Visit by M. Laurent Fabius to Indonesia and Vietnam/bilateral relations/Yemen/terrorist threats

Published on August 6, 2013
Press conference given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs (excerpts)

Hanoi, August 5, 2013



Q. – The French Embassy in Yemen has been closed due to terrorist threats. Do you intend to close other embassies in the Middle East and Africa?

Moreover, does France perceive any specific terrorist threats for the moment?

THE MINISTER – We’ve had consultations with, on the one hand, the United States and, on the other hand, my British and German colleagues – consultations I’ve conducted from South-East Asia. The French President and I believed it was right to close our embassy in Yemen. I’ve just consulted my principal private secretary to decide whether we would extend this closure, taking the existing risks into consideration. We’ll take this decision today, in liaison with our partners.

As regards your question about the assessment of risks, they do indeed exist in certain countries and they vary according to the information we receive. I’ve adopted a principle since I’ve been Foreign Minister: I prefer to take action and, if need be, close an embassy rather than run a risk. I think this principle of staff and population safety must prevail.

After consultation, the President and I took this decision on the basis of information concerning the risk existing on Sunday. We must now remain vigilant. The priority is to protect our nationals. Let’s not forget that we have 2.5 million French people abroad. (…)


Q. – The United States recently expressed her concern about the human rights situation in Vietnam. What do you think about the human rights situation in Vietnam?

THE MINISTER – France is traditionally the country of human rights, not only because of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 but also because we try to respect those rights and call for them to be respected everywhere in the world. I think that in the image of France which people – including you – have, respect for the law is an important point. When there are human rights violations, we point them out. Those are the subjects I talk about to my counterparts. Regarding this country, changes are under way. I don’t want to set myself up as a judge of what must be done, but the Foreign Ministry has expressed its concern about a number of measures taken, particularly regarding blogs. It’s a technology that is going to gain ground. It’s very difficult to curb its use. The subject is the focus of discussions among the population and government bodies. Of course, we’re following this very carefully.

Q. – Does the French President plan to go to Vietnam?

THE MINISTER – Yes, the possibility exists. The date hasn’t yet been decided but President François Hollande will most likely come to Vietnam because we’re committed to our relations with this part of the world, and Vietnam in particular. President Hollande is very interested in the development of our relations with Vietnam.

I’d like to finish by telling you that I’m wholly optimistic about this country’s future. It’s a country which has significant development prospects with a young, courageous, practically-minded population which, I believe, is great friends with France. We’ll be happy to contribute to your country’s development. That’s the purpose of me coming here./.

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