Remarks by Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, French Ambassador to the United Nations, on Bilateral Contacts with Iran

March 21, 2006

We have decided this morning that it would be better to continue the negotiations today through bilateral contacts. So, after the meetings yesterday, where we took stock of the discussion, the more useful thing to do was to have these contacts today.

So, as the President of the Security Council has just announced, the consultations will be postponed till tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. How far are we? - I can't tell you. It seems to me that we still need some time. A few days I suppose, but we don't have much time. So I guess we will have to come to the end of the discussion very soon, but I cannot tell you when.

What do you mean by "bilateral?"

When I say "bilateral," it's by contrast to consultations among the 15. It could be different formats.

The Russians have expressed reservations? Would that be acceptable ? Would that undermine the text?

We think that the message to Iran should be a strong and precise one. We are not in favour of a too general statement. We want a precise and strong message.

Would you consider a resolution?

I never ruled out this possibility. But we work very hard on a consensus, because consensus makes sense. It's good to have a consensus. But I never ruled out another solution. Still, as I said yesterday, I hope that a consensus is possible. This is my assessment.

Are we closer to that?

It's difficult to answer. We need some days to come to this conclusion.

On this issue, can you be more precise?

I'm saying that we can come to an agreement.

Meeting of the Ambassador with the press (March 20, 2006)

There's an agreement on the fact that Iran must absolutely respect the resolutions from the IAEA.

The discussion was on how the Council must put its weight to reinforce the authority of the IAEA and on the level of precision of the message to be sent to Iran.

France's opinion is that this message must be strong and precise.

We still hope that we can reach an agreement.