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Sauvagnargues to Get Full Diplomatic Welcome, but Israel’s Disagreement Will Be Expressed

French Foreign Minister Jean Sauvagnargues will get a full diplomatic welcome when he arrives here on his official visit this week, but no attempt will be made to conceal Israel’s sharp disagreement with certain aspects of France’s Middle East policy. Foreign Minister Yigal Allon said. The French diplomat will hold two working sessions with Allon and will also meet with Premier Yitzhak Rabin during his visit to Israel, the first ever by a foreign minister of France.

“Both Rabin and I will clearly explain Israel’s position to him.” Allon said at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. There was no talk in the Cabinet of cancelling Sauvagnargues’ visit as demanded by some opposition Knesset members and others who consider French Mideast policy a threat to Israel.

The Israeli leaders are expected to make plain to their visitor that Israel is especially chagrined by France’s support for the Palestine Liberation Organization in the United Nations. Some circles felt that Sauvagnargues should be declared persona non grata in Israel because of his meeting with PLO chieftain Yasir Arafat in Beirut last week after which the French Foreign Minister observed that the terrorist leader was becoming more of a “statesman.”

That remark, followed by French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s statement in Paris favoring the establishment of a Palestinian state, was viewed in some circles here as an expression of enmity toward Israel. In any event, Israel’s hopes that the successor to the late President Georges Pompidou would change France’s Middle East policy for the better appear to have been unfounded, observers here said. (By David Landau)

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