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France
Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine
Interview with France2 TV (excerpts)
Paris, France
September 20, 2001

(...)

MIDDLE EAST

In your conversations [in the US] did you get the feeling that the Americans were ready to pull out all the stops to convince both Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat to resume the dialogue, to break the spiral of violence which is one of the sources of the terrorism?

(...) Two days after that horrible tragedy, Secretary of State Powell said that this was yet another reason for making peace in the Middle East. And I believe that, even though the attacks of 11 September and subsequent events will have considerable repercussions on all international relations, there's a whole series of terrible problems in the world which haven't been resolved; they are cancers and exist to the same extent now as before.

So on the Middle East, do you think there's a shift in American thinking?

Yes and I welcome it because I think we are in no way released from our obligation to find solutions to these problems, particularly that one. I see that the way America is again getting actively involved, for tragic reasons, has led to some immediate effects - and we'd like to hope in the very short term - with the Peres-Araraf meeting which won't solve everything, but is perhaps the beginning of a new process of de-escalation. The shift in the American tone has certainly played some role in it. By doing this, the Americans are rejoining the Europeans' efforts.

(...)

The Europeans have been complementing each other's efforts to maintain an international presence and try to retrigger implementation of what we call the Mitchell Commission's conclusions. If we, Americans and Europeans, act together, we have more chance of succeeding.

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OFFSHORE FINANCIAL CENTRES

For a very long time, the Americans - like others in fact - rejected the monitoring of the rather widely dispersed offshore banking world whose mode of operation we don't know much about, but which has been involved in the recycling of dirty money. Have they changed their minds?

I think they will change their minds and this event will have far-reaching repercussions both on many aspects of their policy and in some parts of the world. Already, we had a hard job launching the fight against money laundering, irrespective of the terrorism, and France has been behind many proposals like the creation of the FATF.

Do you think the Americans are now going to move?

Yes I think so. Just over a year ago, I presented to the United Nationals General Assembly a convention to suppress the financing of terrorism, the legal instruments weren't there and in fact it hasn't been ratified by enough countries. Ratification must be speeded up.

Right now we can see that the Americans are taking a different view of this type of effort and we'll have to see in which body we take action. We think that the UN is the right place to define the whole range of measures to combat terrorism. (...).

END