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Pompidou Asserts France Will Not Ease Arms Embargo Against Israel

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President Georges Pompidou today angrily rejected suggestions that France was prepared to ease its arms embargo against Israel. “Israel does not need weapons, what It needs is peace,” he said at a press conference at the Elysee Palace, his first since July 10,1969. He asserted that France has no intention of reverting to a policy of “selective embargo,” one in which Jets and other heavy military equipment is withheld but not spare parts. President Pompidou appeared irritated by questions on the embargo. “Not a single day passes without someone or other questioning me on the subject,” he told the newsmen. “It reminds me of the man who continues to phone the same number even after he has repeatedly received a recorded message that there is no longer a subscriber at the other end. There is no longer a subscriber at this phone number,” he declared. M. Pompidou’s remarks on Israel were regarded here as the harshest he has made since taking office a year ago. He warned that peace was more necessary for Israel than for anyone else in the Middle East and that time was working against the Jewish State.

“More aircraft, more weapons, will make no difference whatsoever. Only peace can bring a solution to the problem and assure Israel’s security,” he said. He conceded that the situation has become more dangerous than ever before and that “there is a danger of a world conflict stemming from the Mideast conflict which would be a terrible catastrophe.” That makes it more imperative than ever to reach an agreement. The French President seemed piqued by the new American and Soviet proposals for a Mideast solution, initiatives taken by the two superpowers which seem to exclude France from the role it covets as a Mideast peace-maker. “Agreement can come only through a Four Power confrontation and agreements among themselves,” he said. “No American or Russian plan can be useful as it would be automatically suspect to one side or the other. The only possible solution can be a joint Four Power plan.” He claimed that “conditions for such an agreement are better now than ever before.”

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