PARIS (Dec. 27)
The reported Soviet-Egyptian weapons agreement, under which Egypt is to be provided with additional Soviet submarines and MIG fighter planes in exchange for use by Soviet fleet units of Egyptian naval bases, was termed by French officials here today as a serious threat to peace not only for Israel but for the entire Mediterranean area.
It was emphasized that France has consistently taken the position that President Nasser of Egypt represented one of the most dangerous threats to Western influence in the Middle East and North Africa. The reported agreement was viewed today by French officials here as confirmation of that Judgment.
The French press expressed concern editorially about the possible consequences of the reported Soviet-Egyptian understanding. The Aurore declared today that “we hope that our American friends will now finally realize the blunder they made five years ago when they saved the Egyptian dictator during the Suez campaign.”
(In Washington, the State Department today continued to state that it received no information from its diplomatic representatives in Cairo on the reported Soviet Egyptian arms pact. State Department officials said that they know nothing more about the pact except the news carried by the newspapers.)
Observers in Paris anticipate that the stiffening French attitude toward Nasser would be expressed in increased aid to Israel. The influential Le Monde asked whether the United States intended to adopt a Middle East policy which would be “something else than a constant submission to blackmail.”
By “re-starting the arms race” in the Middle East, Nasser “willingly engaged” his country and the entire Middle East in the cold war, the French leader said. It expressed doubts that Egyptian bases had been made available to the Soviet naval forces but considered it probable that various installations will be built by Egypt which “may be useful some day to the Soviet bloc.”