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re. US Sanctions;TOTAL,Fr Press/ FT
- Subject: re. US Sanctions;TOTAL,Fr Press/ FT
- From: cd@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 24 Apr 1997 18:10:00
Subject: re. US Sanctions;TOTAL,Fr Press/ FT(UK)
Headline: French Press response to Sanctions, Total "Unconcerned", Next
Monday, EU officials meet US diplomats over selective purchasing and
Date: 24 april 1997
One and All,
Only a few weeks before annual shareholder meetings by Unocal and TOTAL
SA (Paris), the US sanctions decision comes as a rude slap amid sharp
unending controversy. French press reaction varies. On the day of the
announcement, the evening news channel 8 ½ on ARTE (French and German
public channel) showing to millions across Europe, aired a 20 second
spot with film footage of Sec of State Albright, firm and cook and Suu
Kyi, in her compound, smiling and looking well. In French, it was a
reasonably unbiased report.
Liberation (socialist and sympathetic against Chirac-Juppe centrist
right govt) , in the April 23 national daily edition, attributed only a
two paragraph bar column article, tersely cites the sanctions decision "
does not affect the Unocal pipeline project, associated with TOTAL
...(representing) US$1.2 billion, making the United States one of the
principle investors in Burma, the first (investor) being France. "
Le Monde, in the April 24 (early edition, out Wednesday evening)
published a long two-column story by Burma watcher, and Slorc sympathist
Jean-Claude Pomonti (Bangkok) , which is as crafty in omission of TOTAL
engagement, as it is absent of important information. It neither cites
Albright, nor quotes her, an obvious oversight, there only brief pasing
mention - a word or two - of the very controversial and prolonged EU
debate and final withdrawal of Burma's GSP privileges last month, nor
mention of the French government position, which now is embroiled in
Chirac's sudden call for elections next month, upstaging the opposition
in a gamble for an extension of the current government line, severly
attacked here, and bid for an unchallenged five-year reign -which
means unfettered support for TOTAL by a defeated, and politically
electorate having given their endorsement, so it is expected, to the
current regime and its politics. That will include endorsement of the
current position of TOTAL, in Burma, and support by their friends Chirac
and others in his ruling party.
Do not forget that the current Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, is the
former minister of foreign affairs. The current minister for foreign
affairs has not been seen or heard of in the media, both press and
television, for weeks -oddly during the current Zaire takeover by the
So to the point of the Le Monde Story: Its emphasis is on the Asean
bid, now in jeopardy, describes current opium production only 10% up
from last year's level -decidedly at odds with the figures we see of
current opium production having doubled, if not tripled since 1990,
describes Unocal's Roger Beach as 'disappointed', and 'deceived' by the
US sanctions decision, and adds: " For its part, TOTAL declared that it
was 'not concerned' by the american decision. That is extraordinary,
and once again, typical French arrogance, and understatement, and for
astute French-watchers here know, that it means, the opposite of what
they say, in other words, they are very much concerned by the American
decision -but ofcourse they will not admit it.
The Le Monde story concludes with a wait and see question if Japan will
act in solidarity with the US.
Finally, in today's Financial Times (Guy de Jonquieres, Hanoi) , April
24, there is a fairly long story on anti-sanctions movement in the US,
beseiged by selective purchasing across the country, now hit by
Clinton's sanctions decision, " but the EU says the law violates a World
Trade Organisation agreeemnt committming Massachuseetss and 36 other US
sgtates to open public procurement to international competition. The EU
is threatening to challenge the law in the WTO's disputes procedures.
Neither Washington nor Brussels wants such a confrontation, since it
could force the federal government to defend in the WTO a law which
manifestly embarrasses it. "
The story then adds: " US diplomats have been in talks with
Massachusetts authorities and will meet European Commission officials in
Washington on Monday, hoping to reach a compromise.The dispute is
regarded as an important test case because the Mass. legislation
reflects a growing trend. By some counts more than 30 US states,
counties and cities have enacted or plan sanctions laws. Most aim to put
pressure on Burma over its human rights record. "
Well done Simon Billenness and the Selective Purchasing advocates and
The FT story also cites Tod Malan, head of the Organisation for
International Investment, " a Washington-based body which represents
multinational companies ". I would appreciate if anyone could find out
more about this anti-sanctions lobby organisation.
Metta, Dawn Star (paris)
WORLDWIDE TOTAL BOYCOTT
(Total, France's Killer Gas Company in Burma)