Gromyko Meets with French Officials; Opts for Political Solution to Mideast Crisis

Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko was reliably reported today to have informed French President Georges Pompidou that the Soviet Union would still like to obtain a political solution in the Middle East crisis. The Soviet diplomat also was understood to have argued that no such solution could be considered by the Soviet Union while Israel refused to withdraw from the occupied Arab territories. Gromyko also was understood to have asked the French President to press the United States to “use its influence” on Israel to induce Israel to accept withdrawal and to have insisted that Soviet military aid to Egypt stemmed from “the need to protect Egypt from additional Israeli aggression.” No official details have been released on the talks but sources said Pompidou cited the growing tensions in the Middle East and urged a solution arrived at through Big Power cooperation. Sources also reported that Mr. Gromyko met with Foreign Minister Maurice Schumann and Premier Jacques Chaban-Delmas. Diplomatic sources reported that it was Mr. Gromyko who chose to discuss the Middle East when asked by Mr. Schumann to pick a priority topic for discussion. The Middle East was also reported to be the main topic of discussion between Mr. Gromyko and Mr. Chaban-Delmas. Emerging from his talk with Mr. Chaban-Delmas, the Soviet Foreign Minister said his talks with the three French officials were very useful for the future development of Soviet-Franco relations.

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