PARIS (Feb. 3)
President Georges Pompidou entertained King Hassan II of Morocco at the plush Crillon Hotel yesterday. The King arrived here Saturday on an unofficial visit but he is expected to raise questions of French economic and military aid to Morocco in the next few days. Diplomatic observers saw King Hassan’s visit as a further step in the French Government’s program of cultivating anew French influence in North Africa. France and Morocco broke off diplomatic relations in 1966 after the kidnapping and presumed murder of a Moroccan opposition leader, Mehdi Ben Barka. Ambassadors were exchanged again last December.
The Pompidou Government has announced its intention of building up the French “presence” in the Mediterranean area. It is paying special attention to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, all formerly part of French North Africa. But the major French effort has been aimed at Libya which is to be provided with more than 100 Mirage jets and other weapons as part of a $400 million arms deal. Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, known as the “Maghreb” powers, have managed to settle disputes among themselves in recent years. They are said to be wary however of Libya since that country came under the control of a radical military junta and has entered into an alliance with Egypt and the Sudan.