Eshkol Arrives in Paris for Talks with De Gaulle; Welcomed at Airport
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Eshkol Arrives in Paris for Talks with De Gaulle; Welcomed at Airport

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Israel Premier Levi Eshkol arrived today at Orly Airport here for a 12-day visit, during which he will confer with French President De Gaulle, Premier Pompidou, Foreign Minister Couve De Murville, Defense Minister Messmer and other important government officials.

The Prime Minister’s entourage, which landed with him at 11:30 local time in an E1 A1 plane, included Mrs; Eshkol, Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres, adviser to the Foreign Minster Zeev Shek and chef de cabinet Uri Lubrani.

Mr. Eshkol and his entourage were warmly received at the airport by Deputy Foreign Minister Habib DeLoncle, the Deputy Chief of Protocol at the Foreign Ministry, Emanuel Casteljean and a group of members of the Israeli Embassy and Israel army officers, headed by Ambassador Walter Eytan. Also present were French Ambassador to Israel Jean Bourdeillete and local Jewish community leaders representing the central Jewish body CRIF, the French Zionist Federation and other Jewish organizations.

Mr. Eshkol chatted for several minutes with M. DeLoncle, who is leaving for Africa tonight. The presence of the Deputy Foreign Minister came as a complete surprise to Israeli officials, who had not expected him to attend the reception ceremonies.


Immediately after landing, Mr. Eshkol addressed more than 20 newspaper and television reporters, declaring himself “happy to have the opportunity to meet with General De Gaulle and to express to him the admiration of the Israel nation.” Speaking first in Hebrew, then in French, Mr. Eshkol stated:

“We have no special problems to settle with our French friends. I have mainly come to renew our traditional friendship and to personally meet France’s leader.”

This was essentially the same position the Premier took upon his departure from Israel this morning, with officials stressing that the main aim of the visit was to establish personal contact with President De Gaulle and exchange views on Israel-French relations–not to make special requests of France, “I go to see friends,” said Mr. Eshkol, before boarding the plane this morning.

However, observers expected the visit to result in new agreements in the field of scientific cooperation and in the extension of the cultural agreement. Israel aid programs in Africa and the Middle Eastern situation will be among the major topics discussed.

The Premier and his entourage, accompanied by police, left for the hotel where he conferred with his advisers in preparation for his meeting tomorrow with President De Gaulle, Premier Pompidou, and M. Couve Be Murville. Mr. Eshkol said he was “pleasantly surprised” at the warm reception accorded him at the airport and hoped his entire stay would be as fruitful.

Mr. Eshkol’s visit is officially described as a private one. In his capacity of Defense Minister, Mr. Eshkol will visit French military installations and meet with the French Armed Forces Minister Pierre Messmer. The Israeli Prime Minister’s itinerary will include official receptions given by the French National Assembly, the Paris Municipal Council and French institutions.

Both French and Israeli government circles have declined to disclose the subjects which Premier Eshkol and President De Gaulle are due to discuss. Observers expect Mr. Eshkol to begin the talks by explaining Israel’s evaluation of the current political situation in the Middle East with special emphasis on the dangers which Nasser’s Egypt represents. It is also expected that President De Gaulle will be briefed on the recently concluded American-Israeli agreement on joint nuclear desalination research.

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