France Seeks to Improve Its Image

French ambassador Francis Hure sought to persuade Foreign Minister Abba Eban yesterday that Israel takes too dim a view of France’s Middle East policies. Hure, who called on Eban at his own request, pointed out that France had dropped all plans to embark on a Mideast peace initiative of its own and no longer sought to impose its Mideast views on other Common Market states or advance them in the United Nations. Another point which Hure said was not sufficiently appreciated in Jerusalem was that it was France which initiated the proposed global agreement on the Common Market under which Israel will join a free trade area composed of the Market and the countries of the Mediterranean littoral.

Eban replied that while Israel did take account of these points, it could not ignore nor condone the “unfairness” of the French arms embargo which does not apply to Libya. He also noted that at present Libya was, if anything, more actively aggressive towards Israel than Egypt and yet France supplied Libya with Mirage fighter planes. Eban added that Libya and Egypt were members of the same federation in embryo, and the planes were likely to end up in Egypt. He agreed, however, that Israel viewed the proposed global agreement with the Common Market favorably but added that ultimate judgement must wait the working out of its detailed terms.

After the meeting, Israeli officials expressed a measure of satisfaction at this attempt by the ambassador, on the initiative of his government, to improve relations between the two countries.

The Rumanian ambassador loan Covaci met with Eban today to review relations. He agreed with the Foreign Minister’s definition of Rumanian policy–which is much appreciated by Israel–that Bucharest maintains a separation between political opinion and good relations. The two diplomats reviewed bilateral relations which continue to improve in all areas, notably trade, tourism and cultural ties.

NEXT STORY