LEBANON/CORE GROUP MEETING
Q. - Did the Americans try to broaden the meeting to include Syria, Iraq, all the region’s problems ?
THE MINISTER - No, it was a very positive, very constructive meeting, with a very courageous Lebanese prime minister explaining to us the economic, budgetary and political reforms he’s currently conducting. We should not just take an interest in these but also support them. As soon as we’ve got a definite timetable, we’ll be able to look in more detail at the money and aid to be allocated to the various countries. We hope others will come in with us. Paul Wolfowitz, the World Bank President, was there, and he also talked about significant aid for Lebanon. We said again that our priority is the application of UNSCR 1595 and the work of the commission of inquiry, chaired by a judge of high calibre, Mr Mehlis. We want it to find out the whole truth.
Q. - When the Americans say the Syrians are interfering in Iraq, do you share this concern or is it rather the Americans’ problem ?
THE MINISTER - We think it more important than ever, in every country of the world, to respect the sovereignty of the States. Iraq is one of these countries. At stake is national cohesion in Iraq. We don’t want partition, and everything must be done to implement the process of inclusiveness. We think that a uniquely security-oriented approach is leading to increasing sectarianism, this is what we’re seeing today. We want the political process to be completed. We’ve even said that once UNSCR 1546 has been implemented, it will be important to take stock, including at the Security Council.
Q. - As regards Côte d’Ivoire : in your speech yesterday you talked about the possibility of sanctions. What type of sanctions ?
THE MINISTER - It’s a very crucial and sensitive moment. The aim is to implement the Marcoussis and Pretoria agreements. We welcome President Mbeki’s mediation. It’s also necessary to understand that today it’s for the African Union, in agreement with ECOWAS, to make proposals. We think the only solution is internationally-recognized transparent elections. Before the end of the year, the Security Council must, with the African Union, with ECOWAS, shoulder its responsibilities. The international community must face up to its responsibilities, the Security Council must too, including through sanctions if necessary. The time has come to stop the preaching of hate. The time has come for people to stop believing there can be government without elections. The time has come to set the democratic ground rules. It’s the solution for a constructive future.
Q. - Before moving to sanctions, already for several months now, because of the African Union’s mediation, the Security Council has been slowing down the sanctions process. Do you believe we’ve waited long enough and that we’ve got to step up a gear, or are you giving them several more months ?
THE MINISTER - Until the end of the year for the elections.
Q. - Do you think elections can be held before the end of the year ?
THE MINISTER - Not only do I think they can be held, they must be. It’s very important. This means that the rebels have got to go along with this, that the militia are disarmed, that everyone plays the game./.