France Lifts Mideast Arms Embargo

France decided today to lift its seven-year embargo on delivery of arms and planes to the Middle East. The French government decided to reexamine in future all requests for French arms on “a case by case” basis. The French government decision was taken in the wake of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s disclosure that Libyan Mirages are stationed in Egypt and had actively participated in the Yom Kippur War in violation of the Franco-Libyan agreement.

French government spokesman Andre Rossi said after today’s French Cabinet session that “former definitions of battlefield participation (of the Middle East countries involved in the Arab-Israeli war) are now valueless. The government has decided that the sale of this equipment (weapons and planes) will henceforth be authorized on a case by case basis.”

The French decision to lift the arms embargo comes at a time when Israel is relying on American supplies while Egypt and a number of other Arab states want to diversify the origin of their military equipment and obtain French-made arms. French official sources say, however, that Israel is not obtaining from the United States the type and the amount of military equipment it wants. These sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that they believe Israel would thus try to obtain elsewhere what America refuses or is unable to sell and might thus try to obtain this type of equipment in France.

These sources say that the new French Mirage, the F-l, is superior and cheaper than the American Phantom or Cobra. The French believe that Israel and a number of Arab countries will try to obtain the French-made bomber-interceptor. French officials now hope that a number of Arab countries and Israel will become customers for French arms.

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