Paris, Asharq Al-Awsat- The French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blaze spoke at the foreign ministry in Paris on Wednesday evening at a special Iftar dinner held in honour of Arab ambassadors in Paris.
The Foreign Minister said that his country “understands the concerns of the Gulf States over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the need to send a clear signal to Tehran,” indicating that Iran must create favourable circumstances to restore confidence between itself and the international community, referring to the need for Iran to stop the uranium enrichment process prior to returning to the negotiation table.
The French minister highlighted that there is still the opportunity for dialogue with Iran despite the ongoing debate at the UN Security Council to impose economic sanctions on Iran.
Douste-Blazy said that recognition of Iran as a regional power depends on the country dispelling concerns and contributing to regional stability. He added that if Iran does so, it would have proven that it is a “responsible country.”
The French foreign minister took the opportunity at the Iftar dinner to discuss a number of issues in the Middle East. He said that the recent Lebanese crisis showed that these problems are interwoven and cannot be resolved militarily, in addition to the fragility of eastern countries.
Commenting on the Lebanese issue in particular, the French minister stated that Beirut knows that it can depend on the support of France in its efforts to rebuild the country and establish a sovereign, independent, and democratic state. He added that the international conference to support Lebanon that will be held in January will demonstrate the commitment of all parties and the international community to stand by Lebanon. Douste-Blazy stressed the importance of the implementation of Resolution 1701 “to avoid new setbacks.”
Regarding the Iraqi issue, the French minister expressed great concern on behalf of Paris over the escalating acts of violence and dangers of dividing Iraq. He called for supporting the Iraqis and maintaining Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity.
Douste-Blazy said that only political dialogue will lead to stability and full sovereignty in Iraq. He asserted the need to support the initiatives of the Arab League regarding Iraq to consolidate the national dialogue and to urge Iraq’s neighbours to play a constructive role.
Douste-Blazy attributed the current situation in Palestine mainly to the “lack of confidence,” between the Palestinians and Israelis. He called for creating favourable circumstances to re-launch the peace process. He added that he believes that the Palestinian issue is most pressing because there will be no lasting solution in the Middle East without resolving this issue.
Douste-Blazy announced that he intends to visit Sudan in the near future to persuade Sudanese officials to accept the deployment of international forces in Darfur, which Khartoum has rejected to date.
The French minister asserted the intention of France and EU to establish a genuine partnership with Europe’s neighbours in the south of the Mediterranean and in the Middle East to group democratic states together and achieve economic prosperity for these states.
Douste-Blazy said that only the introduction of balanced reforms will allow for the achievement of a gradual political openness, reinforcement of the state of the law, and the achievements of economic development and regional integration. He added, “Europe hopes to follow up on these reforms as part of political, economic, and cultural relations.”
The French foreign minister praised the role that the Arab World Institute plays to bridge the gap between Europe and the Arab world.
Dismissing the theory of conflict between the West and Islam, Douste-Blazy said, “The West does not find it difficult to identify itself with the values of peace and tolerance, which are at the heart of the message of Islam.”