PARIS (Jun. 9)
President Valery Giscard d’Estaing met here today with Israeli Ambassador Mordechai Gazit for a general review of Franco-Israeli relations and the Middle East situation. The meeting lasted 50 minutes.
Diplomatic sources stressed that it is “unusual” for the President to meet foreign envoys in France. Gazit has been in Paris for only six months. These sources believe the meeting, which took place at the Ambassador’s request, was set up because of the Lebanese situation and also because of the cancellation of the Israeli President Ephraim Katzir’s visit to Paris. Katzir cancelled a private visit to Paris when he was told that Giscard d’Estaing would not be able to entertain him at the Elysee Palace. He considered this a breach of protocol. Israeli sources said, however, that the Ambassador’s meeting with Giscard d’Estaing was arranged before the Katzir incident.
Diplomatic sources here described the meeting as “very cordial.” French sources said Giscard d’Estaing did his best to convince Gazit of France’s “good intentions.” The two men reportedly discussed Lebanon, Syria’s intervention, the United Nations’ recent resolutions which France approved and bilateral ties. Giscard d’Estaing is due to meet with Syrian President Hafez Assad June 17, when Assad pays a state visit to France. The French President apparently wanted to “feel out” Israel before his forthcoming talks with the Syrian President. (By Edwin Eytan)