Prospects for Messmer-meir Meeting

French Prime Minister Pierre Messmer said today he is prepared to meet with Mrs. Golda Meir and “grant her all the courtesies prescribed by protocol.” should the Israel Premier decide to accept the invitation of the Socialist International to attend its meeting in Paris next month.

French sources were not prepared to say whether Mrs. Meir would also be able to meet with President Georges Pompidou. The French sources explained that such a question could be decided only if and when the Israelis ask for such a meeting. These sources said, however, that should the Israelis ask to have Mrs. Meir meet the President, there is every chance that the reply would be positive and that Pompidou would also go out of his way to extend every courtesy to the Israeli Premier.

Mrs. Meir, who has been invited by French Socialist leader Francois Mitterand to attend the Socialist International, Jan. 10-14, has not yet replied. A number of other Socialist leaders, including Germany’s Chancellor Willy Brandt and Britain’s Socialist leader Harold Wilson, have either refused the invitation or failed to reply as yet.

For most of these leaders this is due to the fact that legislative elections will take place in France next March and that attending a meeting sponsored by the Socialists could be interpreted by the Gaullist majority as support for the Socialist-Communist coalition led by Mitterand. Whatever the outcome of the elections, France’s foreign policy should continue to be led by Pompidou, unless an unexpected major upheaval occurs.

In Israel’s case, the matter is still further complicated by the special relations existing between the two countries. Attending the conference could be interpreted as support for the Left while refusing the invitation might rule out the possibility of a top-level Franco-Israeli contact. The last Israeli Minister to confer on matters of foreign policy with a member of the French government in Parts was Foreign Minister Abba Eban. That was in the autumn of 1968.

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