The French Embassy in Washington, D.C., is the largest French diplomatic mission in the world. Following are descriptions of the Embassy's various services and departments, all of which are under the Ambassador's direction.
The political advisors, with the help of the press section, analyze American foreign policy as well as the political, economic and social situation in the United States. They also track public opinion trends and draft most of the reports sent to the Foreign Ministry in France. Working closely with the Ambassador, the political advisors maintain constant contact with American officials and deal with matters not directly handled by the Ambassador.
The press section acts as the Embassy spokesman. This office works closely with the American press to ensure accurate representation of French policy and current events in U.S. media. One of its functions is to answer journalists' questions and provide them with documentation. Another responsibility is to analyze the American press and submit press reviews to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris.
An important part of this office is the Documentation Center, which each year answers 25,OOO telephone and mail requests for information about France. This center also maintains a 4,000-volume reference library for use by Embassy staff and the general public (by appointment only).
In addition, the Press and Information Service produces several publications, including a semi-monthly newsletter (News from France), a quarterly magazine (FRANCE Magazine) and various documents addressing specific topics.
This office represents the French Armed Forces in the United States. It also maintains a permanent liaison between the French and U.S. armies and promotes military cooperation and information exchanges, in particular during crises or conflicts in which they are involved.
This office represents the General Delegation for Armaments of the Ministry of Defense and promotes technical cooperation and armaments sales. It is also in charge of purchasing military equipment in the United States.
The French Embassy Cultural Service is headquartered in New York and has affiliate offices in eight other U.S. cities including Washington, D.C. The Cultural Service works with American communities on artistic, cultural and educational activities. These include promoting cultural exchanges in the performing and visual arts, providing logistical help to museums and cultural centers, funding various exhibitions and organizing visits to the United States by French artists and scholars.
On the educational front, the service promotes and administers teacher exchanges, manages several scholarship programs, organizes examinations for students attending French schools in the United States and handles administrative procedures for French professors and scholars in the United States. It also furnishes information and provides logistical help to American students wishing to take advantage of the tuition-free French educational system.
This office, headed by the Scientific Counselor, monitors scientific and technological exchanges between the United States and France in such areas as space, telecommunications, energy, biomedicine and new materials as well as the basic sciences.
The Science and Technology Office publishes a quarterly newsletter, French Advances in Science and Technology (FAST).
Headed by the Minister for Economic and Commercial Affairs, this office is responsible for bilateral and multilateral trade relations involving France and the United States. It represents French commercial interests in the United States and helps French companies (in the agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors) promote their products on the American market. To this end, it provides basic information on U.S. regulations as well as the legal, financial and industrial aspects of doing business in the United States.
This office also maintains contacts with the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, the U.S. Trade Representative and such agencies as the FDA and the EPA. It also has close relations with the American and French businesses in the United States and has established a network of "Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur." These are members of the French business community who act as consultants, sharing their expertise with the Office for Economic and Commercial Affairs.
In addition, this office is also responsible for programming and coordinating the activities of the eight French Trade Commissions (located in New York, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami,Atlanta).
This heading includes nuclear, transportation and air and space attaches on temporary assignment from their respective ministries. They assist the Ambassador and interact with local firms as well as U.S. governmental agencies and departments.
The Financial Agency represents the French Treasury Department in the United States and Canada.
In that capacity, it works with the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve and other public and private financial institutions on economic, monetary, fiscal and financial questions. This office is responsible for the analysis of the U.S. macroeconomy, significant aspects of monetary policy, federal and local budget issues and stock market issues. It also monitors current developments involving banking and credit institutions and insurance companies in order to represent and defend French interests.
Two attachés within the Financial Agency are responsible for fiscal and customs relations between the U.S. and France. An affiliate office in New York. is more specifically in charge of stock markets.
The French Consulate General is located in the same building as the French Embassy. It protects the interests of French residents and tourists in Washington, D.C., and neighboring states (Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina and South Carolina).
This office performs a number of administrative services on behalf of the local French community: It keeps records of vital statistics, provides identification cards, registers voters and keeps records of young men eligible for military service (compulsory in France).
The French Consulate General also provides notary and limited legal services. It assists any French citizen who has been arrested by local authorities and ensures that he or she receives fair treatment.
In addition, the French Consulate General issues the necessary visas to persons wishing to travel to France.
The French mission in Washington also houses the office of the Paymaster General, a branch of the French Treasury, as well as such management services as the Administrative Office (in charge of Embassy accounting and other internal matters).