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EU/Foreign Affairs Council

Publié le February 19, 2013
Press briefing given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs (excerpts)
Brussels, February 18, 2013

MALI

THE MINISTER – Two important points were considered today: Mali and Syria.

On Mali, our action once again received extremely strong support. Moreover, the actual launch of the operation for the training of Malian troops by the European Union was decided and confirmed, which is a good thing. A number of things were clarified regarding the timetable and the desire for dialogue and national reconciliation to actually take place in Mali. These are arguments we’ve been developing for a long time and we’re very pleased the European Union is backing them.

SYRIA

On Syria, there was strong, wholehearted support for the demarche of the President of the Syrian National Coalition. As far as the arms embargo is concerned, it was decided, firstly, that the matter will be reviewed in three months – given the discussions which are taking place at the moment, or are due to take place – and, secondly, the embargo is modified so that it’s easier to provide technical assistance and protect civilians.

Those are the measures taken, and as they totally reflect France’s positions, I’m happy with them.

Q. – As regards the arms embargo, how is this going to work in practice when it comes to protecting civilians and the technical assistance?

THE MINISTER – In practice, it will allow – in accordance with the request by President al-Khatib of the [Syrian National] Coalition – more support to be given to the Coalition, which is necessary. Everyone recognizes that the Coalition President has acted well. He has taken courageous decisions to open up dialogue, not with Bashar al-Assad but with some elements in the regime who don’t have blood on their hands. There are certain positive developments in the discussion and this is what we wanted; at any rate what France proposed and what was accepted was that the Coalition President’s requests should be met./.