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Abba Eban Levels Sharpest Attack on France Ever Made by Israeli Official

Foreign Minister Abba Eban in effect accused France today of fraud and implied that promises made by the French Government were worthless. Speaking in reply to agenda motions in the Knesset, Mr. Eban leveled the sharpest attack ever made against France by a member of the Israel Government. He referred to the arms deal which includes the sale of 50 Mirage jets to Libya. Mr. Eban said that as recently as last month, a high ranking French official assured Israeli representatives that an arms deal with Libya might never be concluded. He charged that the French Government had been calculatingly misleading the world, including Israel, about its real intentions. It conducted “camouflage maneuvers” to “conceal the truth and all the while was putting the final touches to a large scale arms agreement with an Arab country that had declared itself part of the struggle against Israel.” Mr. Eban said.

He disclosed that France had promised Israel several times that its 50 embargoed Mirage jets would not be released to any Arab state, near or far, if Israel renounced its claims to them. But now France is selling 50 of the same model Mirage to Libya. Mr. Eban said that all efforts to get the French embargo relaxed had proved fruitless. (France’s denial, that it was negotiating a new arms deal with Iraq was greeted with skepticism by the French public, Washington Post correspondent Jonathan Randal reported from Paris today. He said the skepticism stemmed from “the French Government’s devious tactics in the Libyan deal.”)

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