PARIS (May. 14)
The Middle East situation and oil supplies to France and other Western European countries were discussed this afternoon by President Georges Pompidou and King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, official circles disclosed here. The Arabian monarch arrived at Orly Airport early this afternoon aboard his personal plane and was greeted by the French President. He paid tribute to Pompidou and the “French nation for their attitude toward their Arab friends and their help in ridding the Arabs of oppression.”
Pompidou, who later greeted the King at the Elysee Palace, praised “the dignity and moderation he exercised in his quest for a solution of the Middle East problem.” Informed sources said the two leaders would discuss the sale by France of Mirage jets, helicopters and anti-air-craft missiles to the oil-rich Arab kingdom. The sources said France hope’s to sell 20-30 Mirage fighters to Saudi Arabia and an undisclosed number of helicopters and ground-to-air missiles.
Saudi Arabia is beefing up its armed forces as a result of tension with Iran. It has recently purchased 50 American Northrop F-5E fighter bombers, 48 British Lightnings and an undisclosed number of Strikemasters. France and Britain are currently competing for additional arms contracts from Saudi Arabia.
In honor of the King’s visit. Paris’ main boulevards were bedecked with the green flags of Saudi Arabia on which are emblazoned a white sword and verses from the Koran. Faisal will be the guest of honor tonight at a State banquet to be given at the Trianon Palace in Versailles. France’s prestigious residence for visiting chiefs of State. Faisal will inspect a Franco-British Concorde supersonic passenger plane on Thursday and will watch a display of French weapons.