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French Government Denies Statement That France Will Not Return Money

A Government spokesman denied a statement made by the French Information Minister Joel Le Theule yesterday that France would not refund $100 million to Israel for embargoed military equipment. Neither the spokesman nor other official circles would say today what the Government’s position was on the matter. M. Le Theule, who was questioned at a press conference on the possibility of a refund to Israel, said yesterday, “There is nothing to pay back as the planes (50 Mirage V jets which Israel paid for in full last spring) are being kept for Israel’s use and are not being used for any other purposes.” He added, however, that this was his “personal opinion” and that “the French Government has not yet discussed or decided the issue.” The $50 million worth of planes are part of the hardware that Israel will not get until a United Nations peace settlement is effected in the Middle East. The Mirages have been grounded under a limited embargo imposed on fighter aircraft after the June, 1967 Arab-Israel war.