PARIS (Jun. 9)
Former Premier Georges Pompidou, the Gaullist candidate for the Presidency of France, said in an interview published today that he favored a general arms embargo on all the belligerents in the June, 1967 Arab-Israeli war and that he would reconsider France’s embargo policy only if it turned out that France has been selling arms to one of the two sides while the de Gaulle-imposed embargo is in effect.
M. Pompidou, who most public opinion polls indicate will win the Presidency by a wide margin over Acting President Alain Poher in next Sunday’s run-off elections, told the newspaper L’Aurore that “no country should supply any war materials or equipment to any of the belligerent parties.” Replying to a question by journalist Serge Groussard, he specifically exempted Lebanon from any arms embargo. “Lebanon is out of the fight and certainly is no belligerent,” M. Pompidou said.
The Gaullist candidate declared that “France will always defend Israel’s right to exist in full independence and security and hopes that all countries will admit this fundamental right.” He added that until this day arrives, France must do all it can to avoid a new Arab-Israeli war which could have “frightening consequences for all humanity.”
Pressed about possible French arms deliveries to Arab states despite the embargo on both sides, M. Pompidou said, “I have been away from power for nearly one year now. If elected I shall study these files and should it become clear that one of the two sides has been supplied with weapons, France will reconsider her entire stand on the issue. There can be no double standard for the parties concerned.”
M. Pompidou’s statement was the most detailed and specific he has yet made on French Middle East policy. Observers here said it greatly diminished the possibility that the arms embargo against Israel would be lifted if M. Pompidou is elected. They noted that he carefully avoided making any promises or commitments on the issue that he might be held to after the June 15 election.