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Official speeches and statements - November 17, 2017

Published on November 17, 2017

1. Saudi Arabia - Lebanon/Iran/Syria - Statements by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, during his joint press conference with Mr Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs (Riyadh - November 16, 2017)

THE MINISTER - I’m very happy to be back again today in Saudi Arabia. I say "back again" because it’s my second visit as Foreign Minister. This must be my eighth visit as a minister, because I had the opportunity to come here, to Saudi Arabia, several times as Defense Minister. The visit falls within the framework of a long-standing partnership, a solid partnership and one we’re determined to progress even further. During the audiences His Majesty The King and His Royal Highness The Crown Prince granted me, and over the course of the substantial discussions which I’ve just had with my colleague and friend, Adel al-Jubeir, we identified many points on which we see eye to eye, both on the major current issues and on our view of the future.

We talked about Lebanon and I repeated France’s concern that the country should maintain its stability and sovereignty, be shielded from outside interference and that its constituent communities should be respected. And we’d like to coordinate to help bring about a return to normality, which we’d like to happen as soon as possible, following Prime Minister Hariri’s resignation.

We talked about the humanitarian situation in Yemen and the measures to be taken so that international assistance can reach the Yemeni people—who really have very urgent need of it—as quickly as possible. The Saudi-led coalition has taken initial steps, which must now be continued and expanded. We talked about regional crises and ways of coordinating our action to help resolve them. I’m particularly thinking of the situation in Syria and Iraq, where the predicted defeat of Daesh [so-called ISIL] is a great cause for satisfaction but also creates new challenges, among other things the search for lasting political solutions in line with people’s many and varied aspirations. We’re winning the war, and we’ve now got to prepare ourselves so that we don’t lose the peace.

We also discussed Iran’s role and the various areas where that country’s actions worry us. I’m thinking in particular of Iran’s interventions in regional crises, that hegemonic tendency. And I’m thinking of its ballistic program. The nuclear agreement France sought, which France wanted to be robust and demanding, must be protected so that the risk of proliferation is contained. We’ll remain very vigilant on its implementation. Finally, yesterday evening and this morning—during the meetings we’ve just had—we defined together a method to enable France to support the ambitious reforms of Vision 2030, particularly in the economic sphere, and thus strengthen our partnership in this field and do so in the interest of the two countries. This method will be set in motion now, to achieve targets at the beginning of next year, during the visit the Crown Prince will be paying to France.

Thank you for your welcome, cher Adel al-Jubeir; it’s been a great pleasure to be with you today.

Q. - A question about Mr. Hariri, who has been the focus of all concerns in recent days. When can we expect Mr. Hariri to leave Saudi Arabia?

THE MINISTER - Mr. Hariri, whom I’ll be seeing shortly, and his family have been invited to France by President Macron. He’ll visit France when he wants to, and as soon as he wants to. And he’ll be welcomed as a friend.

Q. - France has asked Russia and Iran to cease the offensives in Syria. Are there sincere efforts under way to halt those offensives and the ballistic missile program in Iran?

THE MINISTER - On the Syria issue, we’d obviously like the fighting to stop. And initiatives were taken in Astana aimed at establishing de-escalation zones that humanitarian aid could reach quickly. So we’d like this to be implemented as quickly as possible. And we know that the Russians and Iranians have the ability to exert pressure for it to stop. That being the case, we must now—as I said in my introductory remarks—enter into a process of preparing the political solution, a political solution which not only respects the whole of Syria, rejects its dislocation, but also respects the various communities that make up Syria. And to that end there’s one place, one instrument, namely Geneva and the United Nations. And so all those involved must be in a situation where they can complete this political process we developed and with which we’re completely in tune. Completely.

2. United Kingdom - Bilateral relations/fight against terrorism/migration - Joint press communiqué issued by Mr. Gérard Collomb, Minister of the Interior, and Ms. Amber Rudd, Home Secretary of the United Kingdom¹ (London - November 16, 2017)

Home Secretary Amber Rudd and the Minister of the Interior of France, Gérard Collomb, met in London on November 16. They discussed a range of home affairs matters including joint efforts to fight terrorism, illegal migration, border security and efforts to tackle serious and organised crime.

The ministers emphasized the need to maintain and strengthen bilateral cooperation on security and law enforcement cooperation. On counter-terrorism they reinforced their commitment to the British-French action plan to ensure the Internet is not used as a safe space for terrorists. The ministers recognized that the Internet companies are making progress, but committed to push them to go further and faster in taking down terrorist material online—in particular to ensure it is removed within one to two hours of upload—and to continue to develop technical solutions to tackle the issue.

On migration, the ministers discussed the situation in northern France and the challenges linked to illegal migration. The ministers acknowledged the importance of UK support in reinforcing the security arrangements in coastal cities of northern France and the need for continued efforts to manage jointly the shared border between the UK and France. The UK and France will also explore ways of improving cooperating on efforts in countries of origin and transit in Africa and Asia.

Minister Collomb also visited Brixton Police Station to see the work of the Metropolitan Police.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb are committed to continued close and constructive cooperation between the UK and France on these issues and to preparing together for the Franco-British Summit to be held in January 2018.

¹Source of English text: UK government website.