Visit to the United States
MIDDLE EAST/FRENCH PROPOSAL
THE MINISTER – I’d like to take stock quickly of several issues I’ve had the opportunity to mention yesterday and today: first of all the initiative we’ve taken to relaunch the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Why did we relaunch the initiative? Because we believe the status quo in the Middle East is untenable. And I have to say that there’s pretty broad consensus about this among all the partners we consulted. And it is – I stress in passing – what President Obama himself said on 19 May. So we proposed a negotiation platform to enable both parties to sit down again around the dialogue table. Following my visit to the Middle East and the contacts I’ve had here in the United States and at the United Nations, I get the feeling our proposals have changed the scenario.
The President of the Palestinian Authority responded positively to the proposal we made. The Israeli government is still examining the proposals. I quote its permanent representative here at the United Nations: “We’re looking at these proposals very carefully. We too want to get back to negotiations. We want an indication of where they’re going.” The Israeli government is due to let us know its response in the coming days.
Yesterday my counterpart, Hillary Clinton, expressed her interest in the French proposal. She voiced certain reservations, but said she was ready to continue working with us. The Quartet’s Special Envoy, Mr Tony Blair, has just given his support to the French initiative. Finally, the United Nations Secretary-General, with whom I’ve just held a meeting, said he was worried about the lack of progress and believed our initiative was a step in the right direction.
We’re going to continue working with all the partners I’ve just mentioned: the Palestinians, the Israelis, the Americans, the United Nations and the members of the Quartet, to see if this initiative can lead to a resumption of the negotiations before the summer. It’s difficult. The fact that no solution has been found for several decades shows that we need a lot of tenacity to move things forward. But we have that tenacity, and we’re going to continue pressing ahead.
A word about Libya.
We’re going to continue implementing UNSCR 1973. In the framework of this resolution, we underline the military pressure we’re exerting on the Gaddafi regime. You’ve seen its results over recent days. But at the same time we’re moving forward in the search for a political solution. We have confidence in the mediation efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Mr Al-Khatib. The Contact Group will meet in Abu Dhabi this Thursday, 9 June.
We’re setting ourselves two goals for this meeting. Firstly, to get the financial support mechanism for the National Transitional Council working; we’ll have concrete proposals to make. Secondly, to reiterate clearly the conditions of the political settlement we’re seeking. I’d like to remind you of them briefly. First of all, a genuine ceasefire – that is, the return of Gaddafi’s troops to their barracks and United Nations monitoring of the ceasefire’s effectiveness. Secondly, an official commitment by Gaddafi to give up all his political and military responsibilities in Libya. Thirdly, the organization of a national convention, under the authority of the National Transitional Council, opened up to all those who want to join this process, particularly those in Tripoli who have understood that Gaddafi has no future.
Finally, one last word on Syria. The crackdown is constantly getting worse and the number of massacres increasing. It’s inconceivable for us that the United Nations can remain silent on such a situation. So we’re working with our British friends and a few others to gather as broad a majority as possible at the Security Council. I think we’ll therefore have to go to a vote, so that everyone can shoulder their responsibilites. (…)
Q. – What’s your estimated timescale for the resolution on Syria?
THE MINISTER – I can’t set a date for you. We’re working on it. I think I can say today that a majority of the [Security] Council members are ready to vote for the resolution. We’re seeking to improve that majority. As you can see, the situation on the ground is deteriorating by the day, so the sooner the better.
Q. – Are you going to press for it as soon as possible – this week, perhaps? If you say you already have 11 votes, why do we hear the Brazilians saying they want a consensus? The African countries are reluctant. But you say you already have 11 votes. Why don’t you put it to the vote – unless you’re waiting for the situation on the ground to deteriorate still further, in order to convince the others?
THE MINISTER – I’ve already answered that question. I told you we’re seeking the broadest possible consensus at the Security Council. I think it’s a matter of days, perhaps even hours.
Q. – Russia has quite clearly expressed her intention to impose a veto. How far are you prepared to go in making concessions? What can you do to persuade the Russians at least not to impose a veto?
THE MINISTER – I think today the draft resolution is quite clear. We don’t see any possibility of fundamentally changing it. As I’ve said, it’s then up to everyone to accept their responsibilities. The Syrian regime is savagely cracking down on public unrest; it’ll be up to the international community to judge each country’s position. (…)
Q. – You were saying yesterday that France is ready to put the resolution to a vote and risk a Russian veto; is that also the position of your partners, particularly the United States? Because here at the UN we thought the United States was very reluctant to risk a veto.
THE MINISTER – It’s not only France’s position, it’s also the position of the UK and all the countries that support the resolution; and it seems to me that Hillary Clinton did say yesterday she shares that position, but it’s up to her to define and express the American position, of course.
Q. – One question regarding the 1267 Committee, which establishes the list of Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists: it’s reported that it [the list] is going to be halved and that the Afghan government is exerting pressure for the names of a large number of Taliban to be removed from it. Can you clarify France’s position on this subject and say what lies behind the negotiations on this point, in which France is also participating?
THE MINISTER – I think in Afghanistan it’ll be necessary to support the reconciliation process between the different sides and have talks with the Taliban, provided they comply with certain essential conditions: renouncing violence, of course, and adhering to the Afghan constitution. If those conditions are met, I think it’ll be necessary to begin talks with them, and we’re ready to participate with our American friends in such a process. (…)./.