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French FM denounces Gaddafi's 'criminal folly'

French foreign minister pays his first visit to Cairo to discuss the recent developments in Libya

AFP , Sunday 6 Mar 2011
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Europe and France cannot "allow the criminal folly" of Muammar Gaddafi in dealing with Libya's uprising, said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe during a Sunday visit to Cairo.

Juppe, speaking to the French community in Egypt, said he would raise the issue with the Arab League chief Amr Moussa, whose institution is based in Cairo.

Juppe said that his visit to the Egyptian capital, which is his first official trip outside Europe since he took office on Tuesday, shows "France's commitment in the face of extraordinary upheavals" in the Arab world.

He rejected criticism of lack of reaction in Paris to the Arab uprisings, saying "these revolutions took us all by surprise."

"It is not correct to say that we took too long to react" because "we quickly declared our availability to support the march to freedom" of these countries, he added.

Juppe said Egypt, the most populous country in the region," was a "key country for the future of the Arab world" and that it "gave the example, without being overly optimistic, of what can be a controlled liberation," But he also cautioned "nothing is a given."

"We are of course confident but the worst of outcomes has not been excluded. As we watch what is going on in Libya today, we see clearly that this transition can be painful."

Juppe will hold talks with Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the institution to which former president Hosni Mubarak handed over power on 11 February when he resigned.

He also plans to meet members of Egypt's youth coalition that helped to overturn Mubarak before returning to Paris late Sunday.

Juppe, a former French prime minister, was named foreign minister on 27 February by President Nicolas Sarkozy in place of Michele Alliot-Marie, who was tainted by her ties to the former Tunisian regime.

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