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Israel Calls in French Envoy to Discuss Reported Sale of Mirages to Libyans

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Israel is perturbed over a reported $400 million French arms deal with Libya. That and France’s continued arms embargo against Israel will be the subject of talks shortly between the French Ambassador, Francis Hure, and Gideon Rafael, director general of the Foreign Ministry. Mr. Hure has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry for the talks.

Press reports said that President Georges Pompidou has approved the Libyan deal which is said to involve the delivery of Mirage jets to Libya, tanks and an air base agreement. The latter reportedly would involve France’s take-over of U.S. and British air bases in Libya that are being evacuated on the demand of the new Libyan regime.

Fear was expressed in some sources, here that the French weapons, particularly the Mirages, would find their way into the arsenal of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. They said the Libyan Air Force lacked the technical proficiency operate the highly sophisticated supersonic Mirages and that they were unnecessary to Libya’s defense. These sources said that despite the usual safeguard clauses forbidding “third party” use of military material, the French could not prevent Libya from lending its jets and tanks to Egypt.

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