The Constitution of the Sixth Republic vests the conduct of foreign affairs in the presidency and the State Council, subject to the approval of the National Assembly. The president and the State Council, through the prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs, make periodic reports on foreign relations to the legislature. The president receives or dispatches envoys without legislative confirmation; treaties, however, must receive legislative consent. Declarations of war, the dispatch of troops overseas, and the stationing of foreign troops within the national borders also are subject to legislative approval (Article 60 of the Constitution). The National Assembly has a standing Foreign Affairs Committee that reports its deliberations to plenary sessions of the assembly. The assembly may also establish ad hoc committees to consider questions of special importance to the state.
Constitutionally, major foreign policy objectives are established by the president. The chief foreign policy advisers in the State Council are the prime minister, who heads the cabinet, and the minister of foreign affairs. From time to time, these officials may be questioned by the National Assembly; the Assembly may pass a recommendation for the removal from office of the prime minister or a State Council member (Article 63). The president is assisted by the National Security Council in the formulation and execution of foreign, military, and domestic policies related to national security prior to their deliberation by the State Council (Article 91). The Agency for National Security Planning, its mission akin to that of a combined United States Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, has direct access to the president and operates at his personal direction in the overall conduct of foreign policy.
Diplomatic missions abroad conduct foreign policy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established with functional and area divisions. The foreign ministry staff consists of civil service members and a highly professionalized career foreign service corps, selected on the basis of at least a college education and performance in a highly competitive examination supervised by the Ministry of Government Administration. Regarded as prestigious social positions, diplomatic posts attract ambitious and bright individuals who undergo an intensive training program conducted by the Foreign Affairs Research Institute. The institute in the late 1980s had a very rigorous curriculum in international diplomacy, specialized area training, and intensive language training.
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