Posted by: APO | 16 April 2008

SOMALIA/PIRACY / COTE D’IVOIRE / CHAD / ZIMBABWE / France

Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by

the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(excerpts)

 

(Paris, April 15, 2008)

[Please note that only the original French text issued by the

French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.

 

 

SOMALIA/PIRACY

==============

 

Q – I’d like details about tomorrow’s arrival in Paris of the six Somali pirates who were captured. Do you have confirmation that the agreement of the Somali authorities was obtained for their extradition?

 

No, we have no confirmation. As you know, France is doing everything possible to put the pirates on trial in France, and to this end we’re conferring with the president of Somalia. The conditions for their transfer are being worked out. I’d like to remind you in this regard that we’ve acted in close consultation with President Yusuf throughout the crisis.

 

He gave his full agreement for our forces to intervene to arrest the pirates. We also informed the Somali authorities that we would like to try them in France. Discussions are going on with the Somali authorities.

 

Q – Since you say the conditions for their transfer are being discussed, does that mean you have an agreement in principle?

 

I can only say that discussions with the Somali authorities are continuing.

 

Q – What are the legal bases for France’s request for the transfer? Where was the vessel when it was arrested? In Somali territorial waters or outside?

 

There was full agreement from the Somali authorities, as I’ve just said, for us to continue and intercept the pirates. The six pirates arrested by French forces on April 11 are currently on a French Navy ship that is en route for France, and we’re in talks with the Somali authorities to work out in what conditions they can be tried. For details of the legal procedure, I refer you to the Justice Ministry; you heard as we did this morning that the public prosecutor in Paris has opened a preliminary inquiry.

 

Q – Are they still on the Jean Bart?

 

I believe so. I don’t know whether they’ve changed ships, but they’re on the way to France.

 

 

 

COTE D’IVOIRE

=============

 

Q – Do you have a statement concerning the date of the announced elections? Most of all, will they have consequences for France? Will they pave the way for a visit by the foreign minister to Côte d’Ivoire? Is there any particular aid available to finance that election? In short, are there measures being envisioned to support this step forward?

 

Yesterday’s announcement of the setting of a date for the presidential election is an important step, which we salute as such. We stand alongside Côte d’Ivoire in supporting the full implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement and we encourage all the Ivorian parties to strengthen the current dynamic.

 

This political support does not come solely from France. It comes from the entire international community. Indeed, on several occasions, the Security Council has marked its determination to support the implementation of the Ouagadougou agreements, particularly through the holding of free, fair and transparent elections.

 

Naturally, the minister will examine the possibility of a trip to Côte d’Ivoire in due time.

 

Q – Does that mean that France was not considering a high-level trip before because the situation was so deadlocked? And that now, things could be done more easily?

 

The announcement of a date for holding elections has just been issued. We welcome that, as I just said, and we will see at what point the minister might visit Côte d’Ivoire, given the constraints of his schedule.

 

By definition, a foreign minister likes to visit all the countries of the world, and particularly those where there is good news.

 

 

CHAD

====

 

Q – There was a meeting between Mr. Sarkozy and the former president, who is a dissident. I know the Elysée issued a communiqué, but are you aware of any new diplomatic plans or projects for organizing an inclusive conference among rebel groups and Mr. Déby?

 

No, I have nothing to add to the communiqué. As the minister says repeatedly, we support anything that might foster dialogue. Our position hasn’t changed.

 

Q – Do you have any information about Mr. Saleh’s location?

 

No. Unfortunately, we still don’t know anything.

 

 

ZIMBABWE

========

 

The situation in Zimbabwe is extremely troubling. At a time when the opposition has called for a general strike, to continue until the results of the presidential election are published, and the police have banned any public demonstrations, France once again deplores the fact that these results have still not been announced. It has been 17 days since the vote, and we have been told they should be published on April 19. We will see, but they should have been published the day of the vote.

 

The SADC summit that met in Lusaka on April 12 called once again for the swift publication of the results. The summit was useful because it reiterated the international community’s concerns.

 

We will be closely following what happens in the coming days. We have two

concerns: respect for the verdict of the ballot box and regional stability. The Zimbabwean authorities owe their people the truth./.


 


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