France’s Attitude Reserved

Statesmen and the news media throughout Western Europe today expressed their admiration and joy for the daring and skill of the Israeli rescue mission. The French Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement expressing satisfaction at the outcome of the mission but deplored the casualties. Otherwise, the French government has adopted a more reserved attitude which some observers here describe as “frankly disappointing.” The public, however, reacted enthusiastically to the Israeli action.

Sources here confirmed that Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon had informed his French counterpart. Jean Sauvagnargues, of the mission as soon as it was completed. Later, Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin called President Valery Giscard d’Estaing to inform him of the mission’s successful outcome. However, as of this evening. Giscard had still not responded to Rabin’s message nor has Sauvagnargues responded to Allon’s message.

Israeli circles are unhappy with the statement read out yesterday by a representative of the Air France crew upon their arrival in Paris. The crew paid tribute to Uganda. President Idi Amin and stressed his “constant care to ensure our safety, our material comfort and even our health.” These circles believe French officials are behind the statement.

The French, observers here believe, are embarrassed and fear the possible consequences of the Israeli action both in Africa and among the various Arab states. The French press, on the other hand, in its majority warmly approved the mission. In Spain, Italy and Scandinavia the Israeli action was also flashed throughout the day on radio and television stations. A number of African embassies in Western Europe contacted by Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondents refused to comment on the action. They said the African chiefs of state, now meeting in Mauritius, will probably adopt a common stand on the issue. The Soviet Union denounced the Israeli action as another manifestation of “Zionist aggression” and a violation of Uganda’s sovereignty.

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