French defense minister meets with senior UN official on Cote d'Ivoire, Lebanon

17:21, February 08, 2011      

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French Defense Minister Alain Juppe Monday met with the head of UN peacekeeping operations here to discuss the situations in Cote d'Ivoire and Lebanon.

Juppe told reporters that he congratulated Alain Le Roy, the UN undersecretary of peacekeeping operations, on the UN's successes during their morning meeting. Le Roy and Juppe spoke more in depth about Cote d'Ivoire, where runoff presidential elections, widely acknowledged to have been won by Alassane Ouattara, have been heavily contested by his opponent Laurent Gbagbo.

"You know that France supports, fully supports, the result of the official elections which ended by designation of Mr. Ouattara, and we could not basically admit that his nomination would be a failure," Juppe said.

Gbagbo has declared himself the rightful president, in defiance of the international community. Violence in Cote d'Ivoire since the Nov. 28 runoff has resulted in 271 deaths.

Juppe told reporters he thought that "best solutions are the financial sanctions." He added that France is fully supporting the UN's attempts to bring about stability in Cote d'Ivoire.

UN peacekeepers have come under attack in Cote d'Ivoire by forces loyal to Gbagbo, who has accused peacekeepers of being Ouattara partisans. On Feb. 4, the UN Security Council came out in favor of a panel of African presidents being formed by the African Union (AU), to try and resolve the conflict.

Le Roy, who is also French, and Juppe discussed the situation in Lebanon at their meeting, the minister said.

"The second country we mentioned was Lebanon, you know that France is the second force contributor with roughly 1,500 troops over there," he said. "We fully support the implementation of (UN) Resolution 1701 and we know that the only solution will be to bring back the unity of the country and the stabilization of the country," said the French minister.

Adopted by the Security Council in 2006, Resolution 1701 encourages an end to hostilities between Lebanon and Israel, requires militia disarmament, and calls for the respect of the border between the two countries.

Juppe said that he will head to Washington D.C. later Monday to meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, where he believes they will likely discuss some of the same issues he spoke about with Le Roy.

Source: Xinhua

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