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Pompidou Says France Not Planning Release of Mirage Jets to Israel

President Georges Pompidou said today that France may partially lift its arms embargo against Israel but has no immediate intention of releasing the 50 impounded Mirage I jets which Israel ordered before the 1967, Six-Day War and has since paid for in full. M. Pompidou said any decision to resume French arms shipments to the Middle East would depend upon whether other nations are shipping arms there. He said that if the embargo on Israel was relaxed, it would only be for light equipment and spare parts ordered before former President Charles de Gaulle established a total embargo on Jan. 3, 1968. Gen. de Gaulle embargoed the Mirages the day the war started.

President Pompidou addressed newsmen in the Elysee Palace in his first press conference since being elected. He indicated that his administration would follow the de Gaulle policy of walking a “middle road” between Israel and the Arab states but added that France “must defend her large interests in the area based on her traditional good relations with the Arab nations.” He said the aim of French Mideast policy “is not to sell arms but to help reestablish peace.” He deplored the escalation of violence in the Mideast, warning that it threatened the Mediterranean power balance and world peace. France, he said, would counsel the two parties to the conflict to “show wisdom” and will seek a settlement that will insure Israel’s security and guaranteed frontiers while safeguarding the rights of the “Palestinian people.”

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