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Visit to France by John Kerry, Secretary of State (Paris, March 27, 2013)

Q : What was the upshot of this morning’s talks between Laurent Fabius and John Kerry?

A : They discussed first and foremost the situation in the Middle East in the aftermath of President Obama’s visit to the region. Mr. Fabius stressed the importance of making the peace process a priority, the need for the international community to become involved, and France’s willingness to play a major role.

As for Syria, the two ministers noted the unacceptability of the violence perpetrated by the regime and their concern over the risk of chemical weapons being used. Mr. Fabius offered an update on European Union talks on lifting the arms embargo.

With respect to Mali, Mr. Fabius and Mr. Kerry underscored the need to deal with all of the various aspects involved in resolving this crisis: the fight against terrorism and the restoration of Mali’s sovereignty throughout the country; the political dialogue between North and South and respect for the transition roadmap; and development benefiting all Malians. Mr. Fabius confirmed the drawdown of French troops in Mali starting in April, and spoke of the prospects for deploying a UN mission there in July.

They also discussed the situation in the Central African Republic and agreed on the urgent need to fully implement the provisions of the Libreville agreement concluded on January 11 under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States.

As for Afghanistan, the two ministers emphasized the need for the upcoming elections to be open, free and transparent.

Finally, they spoke about the prospects for a free-trade agreement between the EU and the United States.

Mr. Fabius and Mr. Kerry agreed to meet again in the near future to further discuss these issues.


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