Debre Says Israel, Arabs Should Be Present at Big Power Mideast Conference
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Debre Says Israel, Arabs Should Be Present at Big Power Mideast Conference

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French Foreign Minister Michel Debre said in a radio interview today that the presence of Israelis and Arabs at a Big Power conference to work out a solution to the Middle East crisis was “a fundamental necessity” because “there can be no imposed solution.” M. Debre offered the most detailed elaboration to date of the French proposal to hold a Big Four conference — United States. Soviet Russia, Britain and France – on the Middle East. He said such a conference would consider ways and means to implement the Security Council’s resolution of Nov. 22, 1967 as the path to Middle East peace. He stressed that Israel and the Arab states — he referred specifically only to Egypt and Jordan – should participate in the conference. Asked how he would overcome the Arab states’ refusal to negotiate directly or indirectly with Israel, the French Foreign Minister replied that if the four powers agreed in principle that the Arabs and Israelis must be present “a procedure could easily be found.”

Radio Luxembourg broadcast a statement by Valerian Zorin, the Soviet Ambassador to France, that the Soviet Union accepts in principle a four power conference on the Middle East and is prepared to cooperate in holding it. The Soviet Embassy here was reported to have advised the French Foreign Ministry over the weekend of Russia’s acceptance of the French proposal. French circles also reported that the United States’ stand on the matter has been “seriously modified” during the last two days and that both the outgoing Johnson Administration and the incoming Nixon Administration have indicated their acceptance, in principle, of a four power Middle East conference.


Worldwide reaction to the Israeli reprisal attack on the Beirut Airport was almost unanimously condemnatory. Official government statements and press comments alike criticized Israel for its reprisal action and warned that it had jeopardized the prospects of peace. Following is a summary of reports from JTA correspondents in world capitals.

VATICAN CITY–Pope Paul VI telegraphed President Hellou of the Lebanon expressing sympathy and condemning the Israeli attack. He warned that it could only “aggravate a situation that is already so tense.”

PARIS–The French Government, in a statement signed by Foreign Minister Michel Debre, charged Israel with responsibility for the continued escalation of violence and reiterated its call for a Four Power conference to seek ways and means to implement the Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 resolution.

MOSCOW–The official Soviet Government organ Izvestia, assailed Israel’s “gangster attack” and called on the Security Council to make Israel withdraw from the territories it occupied in the June war. The paper said “Israel must stop waving the torch of war” and asserted the Israeli attack was motivated by the desire to block a political solution of the Arab-Israel conflict.

NEW YORK–The New York Times said editorially that “this time, Israel fully deserves condemnation from the United Nations Security Council, and Lebanon is entitled to compensation.” The editorial said that “indications of excessive Israeli belligerence” and Israel’s “continuing ambiguity” on the return of the occupied territories were “bound to spur the re-examination of American commitments in the Middle East — a re-examination that has already been launched by the incoming Nixon Administration.”

ROME–Communist members of Parliament called for a meeting of the Foreign Policy Commission “in view of the grave Israeli aggression and connected questions of principle.” The statement said the meeting was necessary because Foreign Minister Pietro Nenni “tends to equate aggressors and the attacked.” The press warned that the attack could lead to escalation of hostilities and said the Great Powers had either to impose a solution on the Middle East or enforce a cease-fire.

BONN–The West German Government spokesman said that while Israel’s motives could be understood, “the excessive Israeli action must be regretted since it leads to further tension.”

LONDON–The British press was condemnatory of Israel and seemed to agree that only Great Powers’ action to end arms shipments to the area and to impose a solution would end the reign of terror and counter-terror.

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