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French Officials Urge Government to Call Summit Session on Growing Soviet Naval Power

The foreign affairs commission of the French National Assembly called on the Government today to take the initiative and call for a Big Four (United States – Russia – France – Britain) summit conference to try to curtail the increasing Soviet naval power in Mediterranean waters. The commission’s report, prepared by a Gaullist deputy and former minister, Arthur Conte, noted that Egypt has become a naval and air base for Soviet forces and that President de Gaulle could play a major role in calling such a meeting.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned from reliable sources today that the commission’s report was a first step taken by France in the direction of a Big Four conference which would have the effect of giving France a new voice in Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East affairs. Diplomatic pressure for a summit conference, preferably to be held in Paris, was expected to reach a climax after the inauguration of the next U.S. President on Jan. 20, 1969.

Mr. Conte wrote in his report that “Egypt has become a huge aircraft carrier for Soviet forces while Alexandria and Port Said have become, for all practical purposes, Soviet ports.” The report said that Soviet success in extending its influence and presence in the area threatened the security of France and said that a Big Four conference would enable all concerned “to reconsider and clarify the entire situation.”

(The Jerusalem newspaper Davar today reported that a number of Soviet ships were leaving the Mediterranean and interpreted this as an indication that Moscow does not want an Arab-Israel war.)

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