WASHINGTON (Mar. 2)
President Nixon has apologized to French President Georges Pompidou for the “few citizens who have acted in a discourteous manner and in a disrespectful manner to a state visitor.” In a direct slap at the anti-Pompidou demonstrators in Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Stanford University, White Plains and New York, Nixon said they “do not represent the American people and this country’s attitude toward France.” According to Presidential Press Secretary Ron Ziegler, Nixon called Pompidou last night and personally apologized for the demonstrations that have upset Pompidou’s visit. He also stated his intention to go to New York tonight to attend the Franco-American Society dinner honoring Pompidou. Nixon was not originally scheduled to attend. The dinner is being given by William Burden, former Ambassador to Belgium.
Ever since his arrival in the U.S. last Monday, M. Pompidou has been hounded by demonstrators angry about France’s sale of 110 Mirage jets to Libya and her refusal to deliver the jets Israel ordered and paid for. Mr. Ziegler told the press conference Nixon was going to attend the dinner to “underline the deepening and improving relations between France and the U.S.” Mr. Ziegler said the President asked that his thoughts be passed on “to all American citizens.” A State Department spokesman said today that the French President did not blame the U.S. government for the demonstrations, and felt the government performed well under the circumstances to try to assure the success of the visit.