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France to Abstain on Proposal for Direct Arab-israel Talks

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Maurice Couve de Murville, the French Foreign Minister, was reported to have explained today to Israel Ambassador Walter Eytan the reasons for the persistent stand of France in abstaining from voting on any resolution calling for direct Arab-Israel peace talks at the United Nations General Assembly.

A conference of Israeli Ambassadors will meet within a few days in Switzerland, with Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, presiding. It was suggested that Mr. Eytan hoped to ascertain from the French Foreign Minister what the French position would be at the 18th General Assembly on such a resolution, so that he could report it at the meeting in Switzerland.

It was also indicated that the French Foreign Minister, in discussing the report which Dr. Joseph Johnson, the special Middle East emissary of the Palestine Conciliation Commission, will give to the General Assembly, assured the Israeli envoy that France would oppose: any imposed solution to the Arab refugee problem. It was understood that this opposition would apply to a probable American supported proposal to hold a referendum among the refugees as to whether they want to return to Israel or prefer to receive compensation for the property they left in Israel.

It was learned that Mr. Eytan broached the matter of the urgency of positive action for an arrangement between Israel and the European Common Market. The French Minister assured the Israeli Ambassador that the French delegation to Brussels, headquarters of the Euromart, would receive instructions to act in a spirit of comprehension of Israel’s need for an arrangement to protect its substantial trade with member countries of Euromart.

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