PARIS (Jul. 1)
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol of Israel, asserted here today that Israel has no intention of equipping itself with nuclear arms, and expressed the hope that atomic weapons will never reach the Middle East.
Israel, he said, will not be the first country in the region to possess nuclear weapons, “not only because these weapons are too expensive but also because the conventional arms now in the Middle East are already deadly and dastardly enough. “
The Israeli Premier, here on a 12-day visit, made these statements at a luncheon tendered in his honor by the Association of French Diplomatic Correspondents and the Foreign Press Association, Earlier, he was received by Jacques Chaban Delmas, president of the French National Assembly, and was the guest of the Franco-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Committee.
Last night he met for more than an hour with Pierre Messmer, French Minister of the Armies, and other top-ranking French Government defense officials, finding them “most understanding of Israel’s problems and needs. “
At the press luncheon, Mr. Eshkol, who had been asked what concessions Israel was prepared to make in order to reach a settlement with the Arab states, replied: “I am certain that the day will come when the Arabs will recognize Israel, as other nations in the area have done. I do not think that peace can be furthered by making concessions, Israel already occupies only one-fourth of the area of the original mandate granted by the League of Nations to Britain in Palestine–which was four times larger than the State of Israel. “
“What Israel is prepared to offer the Arabs, ” he added, “is her friendship and her technical assistance. ” He challenged the Arab states to “a peaceful competition under which Israel and her neighbors would compete on such projects as the desalination of sea water–rather than in an arms race. “
In reply to another question about Israel’s regional aspirations, he said: “The best would be a peace treaty. Should this not be possible, we would be ready to sign a non-aggression treaty and to promote regional disarmament. ” More than 100 French and foreign journalists attended the luncheon, as well as Jean Bourdeilette, French Ambassador to Israel, and senior officials of the French Government.
ESHKOL WOULD BE READY TO MEET WITH KHRUSHCHEV
One of the journalists asked Mr. Eshkol whether he planned to visit the Soviet Union and meet there with Premier Nikita Khrushchev. He replied:
“I am prepared to meet with the Soviet Prime Minister at any time and in any place, especially in the Soviet Union. I would take such an opportunity to try to convince him that Israel is neither an imperialistic nor a colonialistic state. I would also discuss with him the situation of Soviet Jewry, for whom I would seek equal cultural and religious rights, I would also raise the problem of the emigration of Soviet Jews who desire to do so for purposes of reunification with their families–one of the most tragic problems. “
In his opening remarks at the luncheon, Mr. Eshkol told his audience that “friendship with France is the cornerstone upon which Israel’s foreign policy rests. ” He said he was “deeply touched by the friendship shown by the entire French nation, symbolized by the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and other members of the Government with whom I had the honor to meet. “
FRENCH DEFENSE MINISTER SHOWS UNDERSTANDING FOR ISRAEL’S SECURITY
The mutual Franco-Israeli “understanding” of Israel’s current defense posture emerged as a result of last night’s conference between Mr. Eshkol, who holds Israel’s Defense Ministry portfolio in addition to the Premiership, and M. Messmer, French Minister for the Armies.
“Without discussing the results of that conference in detail, publicly, Mr. Eshkol told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the discussion with M. Messmer was “highly satisfactory. ” Tonight Mr. Eshkol was the host at a dinner he gave in honor of members of the French Cabinet, leading members of the National Assembly and other public figures.