Jerusalem, 13 April 2000

PM Barak Meets French DM Richard
(Communicated by Defense Ministry Media Advisor)

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak today (Thursday) 13.4.2000, met with Defense Minister of France Alain Richard at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. The Prime Minister briefed the French Defense Minister on developments in the peace process, including the government’s decision to withdraw the IDF from southern Lebanon by July. He said that the IDF will defend Israel from the international border and would retaliate harshly to any attempt to attack civilians or soldiers following the redeployment.

The Prime Minister signed a cooperation between the Israeli and French defense industries, noting that defense establishment relations between the two countries has improved in recent years, and he expressed the hope that defense and economic relations would further expand and extend to other fields.

The two men also exchanged ideas regarding the potential threat from the continued attempt by Iran and Iraq to obtain nuclear weapons.

The Prime Minister raised the subject of the trial of 13 Iranian Jews, stating that the Free World cannot stand aside when innocent people are put on trial merely for being Jewish. Defense Minister Richard said that France would act to achieve the release of the Jews.

PM Barak Speech at Luncheon with French DM Richard
(Communicated by Defense Ministry Media Advisor)

Following is the text of the speech given by Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak today (Thursday) 13.4.2000, at luncheon with Defense Minister of France Alain Richard:

My wife Navah and I are honored to welcome Defense Minister of France and Madame Richard to Israel. The close relationship between Israel and France reflect not only a meeting of interests, but first and foremost, the cultural affinity and common values of both nations.

As a part of Western civilization, we know how much our modern tradition is founded on the three principles of the French revolution: Freedom, equality and fraternity.

Franco-Israeli relations have known highs and lows since their beginning in the 1950s when France came to Israel’s aid in the first critical decade of its sovereign existence. I wish to emphasize with great satisfaction the recent development s in Franco-Israeli relations in all areas: political, economic, commercial, cultural and scientific. Of particular importance to Israel is the developing defense cooperation between our two establishments, and I am convinced that your current visit will bring about a deeper recognition between the heads of the defense establishments and promote defense relations between our two countries.

Here in Israel, we are in the midst of a determined effort to put an end of the century-long conflict and achieve peace agreements with all our neighbors. We are aware of the fact that we are not living in a region like Western Europe, but it a very tough neighborhood, and for the foreseeable future, Israel will to remain strong and capable of coping with threats from near and far. It is necessary to cope with threats from both conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction, ground-to-ground missiles and terrorism requiring Israel to continue to develop its unique advantages.

I am convinced that cooperation between our defense establishments can contribute to both sides and to Israel’s ability to meet the challenges of the future. France’s contribution to the peace process on the multi-lateral track and on Lebanese and Palestinian issues can be an important contribution to consolidating the peace agreements in the region.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank the French legislative chambers for completing the ratification process on the association agreement, and to express my appreciation to the government of France for its support for the integration of Israel in to the group of Western countries at the United Nations.