PARIS (Jul. 2)
For the first time in the history of close relations between France and Israel, the French Government tonight formally announced the closeness of the ties between the two governments. An official French Government communique was read by Information Minister Alain de Peyrefitte, in front of a national television hook-up, declaring:
“The private visit which Israeli Premier Levi Eshkol is currently paying to Paris has been an opportunity to review the Mid-Eastern problems. It is evident that France, after a strained period, enjoys excellent relations with the Arab world. For France, this does not signify, however, that our friendship with the State of Israel should be weakened in any way whatsoever. On the contrary, we believe that the good relations which we have with both sides are of a nature to contribute to the maintenance of peace and of the status quo in the Middle East. This is also the aim of the other Western Powers.”
The communique was issued following a meeting of the French Cabinet at the Elysee Palace, the official headquarters of the French President, with General Charles de Gaulle presiding. Government communiques are usually hand-written by the President of France himself.
Just prion to the issuance of the communique, Mr. Eshkol renewed his personalities with noted Frenchmen whom he characterized as “old friends.” They included Guy Mollet, Prime Minister of France during the 1956-57 period of the Suez-Sinai crisis! Christian Pineau, who was Foreign Minister then; and another member of the French Cabinet at the time, Albert Gazier. These were the men, it was pointed out, “who were responsible for destinies of France at the hour of Israel’s peril” in 1956-57.