France Solicits Venezuela’s Help in Negotiations with Iran

During talks between French and Venezuelan government officials on Thursday in Paris, during which the two countries reached ten bilateral cooperation agreements, France asked Venezuela to facilitate dialogue between the European Union and Iran.
Chancellors of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, and France, Bernard Kouchner (VTV)

Mérida, October 5, 2008 (– During talks between French and Venezuelan government officials on Thursday in Paris, during which the two countries reached ten bilateral cooperation agreements, France asked Venezuela to facilitate dialogue between the European Union and Iran.

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, formally asked Venezuela's Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, to talk with Iran and communicate to its government the offer of dialogue from the European Union.

Kouchner told the press that he saw Venezuela's history of joint work with Iran as very positive and for this reason "We want [our Venezuelan friends] to help us to ease our conversations with Tehran."

Kouchner elaborated that his country does not principally support sanctions, and would rather have dialogue with Iran, even though he denounced the attitude of Iran for not responding to questions about the issue.  

Various countries such as the US, France, Germany, China and Russia have targeted Iran over its nuclear program, and the UN security council imposed sanctions on Iran in March 2008 and reaffirmed them on 27 September.

"What we want is to make sure of the peaceful aims of the Iranian nuclear development," Kouchner said.

Maduro agreed to the proposal of mediation, "because the Iranian authorities have not answered many pertinent questions by the International Organ of Atomic Energy."

The two governments looked at cooperating around nuclear energy, with both foreign ministers supporting the search for alternative, renewable, and nuclear energy sources.

"We're very supportive of renewable energy," Kouchner said, stressing that nuclear energy is less contaminating.

France derives 75% of its electricity from nuclear generation, is the worlds largest exporter of electricity, and reactors and fuel products are among its major exports.

10 agreements

In this 10th Joint Bilateral Commission the two foreign ministers appointed three boards to work over the next few months in various areas including politics, culture, economics, science, technology, higher education, communications, drug smuggling, and industry. They also signed 10 agreements of mutual cooperation related to these areas.

 "These agreements are going to generate important investments over the next few months," Maduro said.

In the area of politics, the agreements and proposals made during the 5th Latin America, Caribbean and European Union Summit (ALC-UE) which happened in May, in Lima, Peru, were established as continuing.

Regarding education, a special plan to introduce the teaching of French in Venezuelan secondary schools was discussed, as well as the granting of 1,000 scholarships for youth to continue with their higher education in France.

Various energy-related agreements were made, extended, or developed. France will invest in Venezuelan fuel and gas sectors and its companies are already involved in a project in the Orinoco Oil Belt of Venezuela.

It was also agreed to promote the creation of a mixed company made up of Petrocedeño (Venezuelan), Total (French), PDVSA (Venezuelan) y Statoil (Norwegian).

Total will participate in the Ambrosio and Pedenales oil fields (located in western Venezuela) and there will be joint training between PDVSA and the French institutes of petroleum, electricity, and energy efficiency.

A range of international issues were addressed, including the recent financial crisis, the war in the Caucasus, the migration situation and the restructuring of the United Nations,

Alejandro Flemming, Venezuelan vice foreign minister for Europe, reported that they had spoken of the "affection of both our countries for multilateralism and for the need to reform the system of the United Nations to make it more democratic."

"We also agreed on the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bolivia," he added.

For Venezuela, technology transfer was one of the most important agreements.

"This transfer of technology is fundamental for Venezuela because this is what will allow us to develop our own technology and advance in the objective of developing Venezuela," Flemming said.

The meeting also discussed cooperation around railroads, including the development of the Caracas underground, and agreed to the creation of the Civil Security Center for the prevention of disasters. Other agreements were made around health, agriculture, food, the creation of libraries, equality of culture, sport, theatre and cinematography.

The meeting follows on from a previous meeting between the Venezuelan and French presidents which took place last September 26. Kouchner announced that the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Venezuela next year and meanwhile they will both continue implementing and strengthening the bilateral cooperation.