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News Briefing: French Ministry Of Foreign Affairs

Daily News Briefing: Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

GERMANY/FRANCE

Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin will be meeting on Tuesday, September 9 with Wolfgang Schauble, vice-chairman of the CDU/CSU group in the Bundestag with responsibility for foreign affairs.

The meeting, part of the usual contacts with political leaders of EU member states, will provide an opportunity for the two to exchange views on the main bilateral questions and current international events.

FRANCE/AFGHANISTAN

Nicole Fontaine, Minister Delegate for Industry, will be in Afghanistan on September 9 and 10 where she will represent the French government at ceremonies commemorating Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud’s assassination.

During her visit, Ms Fontaine will be received by President Karzai and the former king of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah. She will also have talks with members of the Afghan government, specifically with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Foreign Minister, and Marshal Fahim, First Vice President and Defense Minister. Ms Fontaine will reaffirm our confidence and support to President Karzai and our wish to assist in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and the preparation of elections in 2004.

During the visit, Ms Fontaine will hand over a donation of medical equipment and medicines to the hospital in Kabul. She is also due to sign with Mr. Stanakzai, Minister for Telecommunications, a cooperation agreement in the information technologies sector. She will present the actions proposed by France in this field and reiterate that French businesses are ready to participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan’s system.

REGIONAL COOPERATION IN THE INDIAN OCEAN

As part of the follow-up to the Overseas Outline Act, the post of ambassador delegate for regional cooperation for the Indian Ocean has been established.

This new post has been established in response to the wish to develop regional cooperation in that area, particularly that by local authorities, on the model of what is already being done in the Caribbean and Pacific.

The task of the new ambassador delegate will be to facilitate coordination of intervention by the state and local authorities in Reunion and Mayotte. His action is to promote regional integration. I would remind you that the cabinet nominated Jean-François Bouffandeau for the post on September 3.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - Do you have any comment on the nomination of Abu Ala for Palestinian prime minister?

We have taken note of the decision by the chairman of the Palestinian Authority to offer the post to Ahmed Qurei, chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council. France, within the European Union, will offer him our full support for the implementation of the roadmap.

The minister also spoke this morning by telephone with his counterpart, Nabil Shaath. They reviewed the situation, and the minister reiterated France’s support for the Palestinian government.

LIBYA

Q - The families of the victims of the UTA bombing are now saying that they could finalize their compensation agreement with Tripoli after UN sanctions on Libya are lifted. So will France support lifting the sanctions before any agreement on compensation?

I will remind you that the contacts with the Libyans are still going on. It is for the families who are negotiating with the Libyans to say whether they are satisfied with any agreement reached. If this is the case, we will draw the consequences as far as lifting the sanctions is concerned.

IRAQ

Q - Do you have any comment on President Bush’s speech yesterday and does France expect to respond to his call for greater international involvement in Iraq?

It’s not for me to comment on President Bush’s speech. With regard to the substance of your question, consultations are under way, in particular at the United Nations in New York, and as you know the French position was given by the president last week in Dresden and developed by the foreign minister in a major daily on Friday morning, September 5./.


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