PARIS (Dec. 15)
French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing said here today that France’s decision to help the Arabs build an arms industry of their own should not be considered an unfriendly gesture towards Israel.
Speaking at Orly Airport upon his return from a five-day official visit to Egypt as the guest of President Anwar Sadat, Giscard d’Estaing said, “Egypt’s choice of France (for building the arms industry) strikes me as wise. Israel ought to consider that France’s policy aims at peace in the Middle East.” He added, “It is only natural for Egypt’s leaders to organize their own security.”
Precise details on the arms industry which will be set up are not yet known. Reports from Cairo say it will be a three-party affair with France supplying the technical know how, Egypt the manpower, and the Gulf States–Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait–the funds estimated at $9 billion. France has also agreed to help Egypt set up a nuclear industry of its own and build atomic piles which, Egypt hopes, will supply the country with half its energy requirements by 1985.
Giscard d’Estaing’s visit has also helped boost Sadat’s prestige within the Arab world and coordinate France-Egyptian policies and diplomatic moves. France believes Sadat to be “a moderating force” in the Middle East and plans to encourage him. This view, French sources here said, will also be made known to the other, more extremist Arab states, such as Syria and Iraq.