PRESS CONFERENCE BY PRESIDENT OF FRANCE
President Jacques Chirac of France this evening stressed the importance of the United Nations in helping to bring about a political solution in Afghanistan.
Responding to journalists' questions at a Headquarters press conference, he said he had discussed with Secretary-General Kofi Annan the actions taken by Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, as well as ways in which they could proceed.
In his earlier opening statement, President Chirac underscored that while the military process in Afghanistan would take a long time, political action was essential in establishing a system that would be appropriate for the country and its neighbours. The present Taliban regime was not appropriate from the perspective of human rights, women's rights and the current misery of the Afghan people.
Emphasizing that the United Nations would also be decisive in preventing the impending humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan, President Chirac said he had suggested to the Secretary-General that he appoint an eminent personality to coordinate humanitarian assistance. With $700 million in aid money available, only organization and impetus were required.
Asked to describe the objectives of a resolution to be adopted by the Security Council at a public meeting of the Council scheduled for 13 November, President Chirac said the text, proposing a political solution for Afghanistan, had been inspired by Mr. Brahimi's proposals and was very close to a plan presented on 1 October by the French Foreign Minister.
Referring to Middle East tensions, another correspondent asked whether the status quo would remain with regard to Iraq. Was Palestine Authority President Yasser Arafat likely to declare a Palestinian State when he came to the United Nations, and how helpful or harmful would such an action be? she asked.
President Chirac said the Middle East was an element of great concern, especially in the present context of international terrorism. The two issues had become a major pretext for fuelling and reinforcing the sentiments of those recruited by Osama bin Laden and his supporters.
He stressed that for the past 18 years, France had been in favour of a democratic Palestinian State with guarantees for the security of Israel. It was absolutely essential that the international community convince the Palestinians and Israelis to relaunch the peace process in view of the changed world situation, President Chirac added.
Asked if he and United States President George W. Bush had discussed the need for more French special forces, he said a request had been made. France was willing to add to its 2,000 soldiers, pilots and sailors already participating as long as their role was clear and they had a planning role.
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