WASHINGTON (Jan. 28)
Rep. Seymour Halpern, ranking Republican member of the International Finance Subcommittee of the House Banking and Currency Committee, today asked Secretary of State William P. Rogers for “an immediate report on indications that the anti-Israel policies of President de Gaulle of France are designed to attract hard currency deposits by Arab oil sheikhs to the Bank of France to strengthen the franc and manipulate other currencies including the dollar.” The Congressman said that banking sources in Paris and Beirut have confirmed his suspicion that “the decline of the Franc led de Gaulle to a desperate and cynical accommodation with the Arabs even though it facilitates Soviet designs and undermines American interests. It appears that de Gaulle is irresponsibly exploiting what President Nixon has termed a ‘powder-keg’ situation in the Middle East. He is doing this while piously and hypocritically proposing so-called peace plans hatched in Moscow and Cairo” said Rep. Halpern.
Rep. Halpern told Secretary Rogers that “our Government must respond immediately. De Gaulle is jeopardizing the shaky Mideastern balance and risking a world nuclear conflagration by throwing France behind the Arabs in a desperate gamble for massive hard currency transfers to Paris from American, British, and other banks.” He said he was “certain that President Nixon will address himself to this sidelight of de Gaulle’s policies on Saturday when he devotes the day to formulation of Mideastern policy and prepares the U.S. response to the French note proposing Big Four talks on the Arab-Israeli crisis.”
It was reported from Beirut that leading Lebanese parliamentarians today called for withdrawal of Arab bank accounts from countries supporting Israel and depositing of such funds in the Bank of France in appreciation of Gen. de Gaulle’s embargo on spare parts and military equipment for Israel. The French newspaper Combat said Gen. de Gaulle has proposed a secret plan to strengthen the Bank of France with Arab deposits, permitting him to undermine British and American currencies. Combat also said contacts with Russia have been ordered by Gen. de Gaulle for an agreement for joint support of the Arabs to “encircle and neutralize” Israel. The plan reportedly involves technical and military aid and military experts. France would be responsible for Israel’s northern and eastern flank, including Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. The Soviet Union would insinuate itself into Jordan and build up its position in Egypt, it said. Jordan has just signed a trade agreement — its first — with Russia.