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France Agrees to Sell Large Quantities of Ground-to-air Missiles to Lebanon

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France has agreed to sell large quantities of Crotale ground-to-air missiles to Lebanon, the JTA learned here today. French political circles contend that the sale would not violate the arms embargo imposed by former President Charles de Gaulle on belligerents in the June, 1967 Arab-Israeli War because France does not consider Lebanon to have participated in the war.

The Crotale missile consists of a radar apparatus and a warhead. It is made by the Thomson-Matra Co. and was developed with the help of the South African Government which paid for the research. France sold Lebanon a number of Mirage jet trainers last year. The French Foreign Office last week emphatically denied press reports that it had partially lifted the arms embargo on Israel with respect to military equipment and spare parts.

The Daily Express said in a front page story in London today that the British Aircraft Corp. is negotiating to sell Iraq Lightning jet fighters and Red Top anti-aircraft missiles worth some $240 million. According to Chapman Pincher, the paper’s defense correspondent, secret talks have been in progress for several months in London and Baghdad with the full backing of the Government’s arms sales department and the Foreign Office. Mr. Pincher said that Saudi Arabia, which is already buying the Lightnings, agreed to a delay in the delivery of its planes so that the Iraqi order can be expedited. A Foreign Office spokesman refused to confirm the Express story. He told JTA that the Foreign Office never comments on arms sales or negotiations for arms sales.

(Britain has started delivery of a consignment of more than 50 of the powerful Centurion Mark II tanks to Jordan, the London Daily Telegraph reported. It said that the first six of the 36 Star fighter planes the United States has promised to Jordan have already been delivered but that King Hussein believes the rate of delivery is too slow.)

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