PARIS (Jun. 5)
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and President Charles de Gaulle of France were reported by official sources to have reached “complete understanding on all subjects” during 70 minutes of conversations today.
It was understood that the two leaders had reviewed Franco-Israel relations as well as France’s attitude to Middle East problems which may come up at the next General Assembly, opening in September, at which the problem of the Arab refugees will be reviewed again. The two leaders met twice, once before a luncheon given by General de Gaulle in Mr. Ben-Gurion’s honor, and later after the luncheon. At the second session, only Ambassador Walter Eytan was present, serving as a translator.
The French President said Israel is France’s “friend and ally” and assured Israel of “our solidarity. ” He made this statement in a toast to Israel during the luncheon at Elysee Palace. “It is a great pleasure to greet you again, as well as Mrs. Ben-Gurion, Mrs. Meir and Mr. Peres, ” he added. Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, and Shimon Peres, Deputy Defense Minister, were among those invited to the event.
“In the world in which we live, it is useful that men of goodwill should meet to find common ground,” Gen. de Gaulle declared. “This is what has happened to us once again. This is true in all respects and particularly in those matters which concern Israel, whose worth and grandeur we all know. We also know of Israel’s difficulties and preoccupations, ” the French leader added. “We want to assure you of our solidarity and friendship. We greet Israel, our friend and ally.”
BEN-GURION GRATEFUL FOR AID; SAYS ISRAEL STILL FACES DIFFICULTIES
Mr. Ben-Gurion, replying in French, expressed Israel’s gratitude for everything France had done for Israel since the Jewish State was created “and throughout the difficult hours which we have since experienced and still experience. I want to express once again the deep gratitude felt by the people and the Government of Israel toward your country and our personal admiration for General de Gaulle.”
The French Cabinet postponed its weekly session yesterday to enable three of its members to attend a dinner tendered last night by Ambassador Eytan in honor of Mr. Ben-Gurion. The Israel Embassy had been informed that Maurice Couve de Murville, the Foreign Minister, Edmond Michelet, the Justice Minister, and Education Minister Paye would be unable to attend. Shortly before Mr. Ben-Gurion’s arrival, the Embassy was informed of the Cabinet meeting postponement so the Ministers could attend.
Maurice-Schumann, chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, was another last-minute arrival. He hastened to Paris for the dinner from the provinces where he is fighting for his local Government seat in a local election. The four French leaders were joined by three former French Prime Ministers, Pierre Mendes-France’s, Guy Mollet and Jules Moch in paying tribute to Israel’s Prime Minister. Two of France’s top soldiers, Chief of Staff General Martin and General Lavaud, chief of the supplies department in the Defense Ministry, also attended the dinner as did Professor Francois Berin, chief of the French Atomic Energy Commission.
No speeches were made at the dinner but afterwards small groups of French leaders and Israelis formed for both practical and general discussions. Mr. Ben-Gurion was engrossed for nearly an hour with Foreign Minister de Murville and former Premier Mendes-France, Mr. Peres had a discussion believed to be of practical issues with General Lavaud.
Mr. Ben-Gurion met this morning with Mrs. Meir at the Israel Embassy for a review of the Prime Minister’s talks with President Kennedy, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker of Canada and Prime Minister Harold MacMillan of Britain, and in preparation for his later talks with President de Gaulle. In the evening he received a group of 30 Jewish leaders at his hotel.
After the meeting with the Jewish leaders, Mr. Ben-Gurion attended a dinner in his honor given by the French Premier at the latter’s official residence, the Hotel Matignon. Diplomatic circles here stressed that the general atmosphere during the de Gaulle–Ben-Gurion talks, on this visit, were even more friendly and intimate than the atmosphere at last year’s meeting between the French and Israeli leaders.