|Visit to the Middle East|
Statements made by M. Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, in his joint press briefing with Mrs Tzipi Livni, Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, (excerpts)
Jerusalem, September 11, 2007
Q. – (on the assessment of the Minister's visit)
THE MINISTER – The history between France and Israel goes back a long way. It's a very interesting one, with ups and downs. We're currently enjoying a period of very good relations. I'm very pleased to have had meetings with all the country's leaders, particularly Tzipi Livni. (…)
During my meetings yesterday with Abu Mazen and other friends, and this morning with Ehud Barak, I learned that the talks between the Prime Minister and Abu Mazen are moving in the right direction: three hours of meetings, a genuine openness and important work done with a view to the conference scheduled for November, probably in the United States. We were all satisfied and are on the whole optimistic.
Q. – I know that, during your visit, you met Noam Shalit, Gilad Shalit's father. I'm just curious to know the nature of the French government's involvement in the effort to get Gilad Shalit's release, insofar as he's also a French national? I know that last night in Ramallah you said that, for the moment, the French aren't prepared to talk to Hamas. When do you think the right moment will be?
THE MINISTER – At every meeting I talked about Gilad Shalit. We're trying to protect him and get information about him. It was easier when we could go to Gaza and talk to the people. However, it's difficult to get information whilst respecting this sort of embargo preventing us from talking to Hamas. But we've got other sources of information through our Egyptian friends, the NGOs and the Red Cross. I've just received a letter from the families [of Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser – the three hostages captured by Hezbollah]. I met the families in Paris. We're doing everything to help them and achieve our goal. (…)./.
Embassy of France in the United States - September 14, 2007