PARIS (Oct. 6)
Jacques Chaban-Delmas flew to Israel today to formally invite Premier Menachem Begin to officially visit France. Chaban-Delmas, one of France’s main Gaullist leaders, undertook this mission at the personal request of President Valery Giscard d’Estaing with whom he met two days ago.
French sources say Giscard d’Estaing wanted to extend France’s invitation to Begin in a “high-level and yet friendly way.” The sources say the exact date for Begin’s visit will be decided upon by the Israeli Premier but that Paris hopes the visit will take place before the end of this year, probably some time month.
The French government last year invited then-Premier Yitzhak Rabin to France and has since renewed the invitation to Begin. Israeli diplomats privately say Begin felt France should extend a personal invitation and not content itself with renewing the outstanding one.
Chaban-Delmas served as President Georges Pompidou’s Prime Minister for three years from 1969-1972 and was considered at the time a friend of Israel. He was apparently chosen for the current mission to Israel because of his good relations with the French Jewish community and Israel. Observers believe he might also be groomed for a political come-back in preparation for France’s forthcoming parliamentary elections.
(In Jerusalem, informed sources indicated today that diplomatic contacts surrounding an invitation to Begin had been maintained for some time. But plainly they were flattered by the signal honor done Israel’s leader in this high-level personal inviting mission by Chaban-Delmas. An earlier invitation to Begin to visit Britain is still awaiting finalization, since an end-of-October date set by Begin and Prime Minister James Callaghan now turns out to be inconvenient for the British. Sources here said Begin would not visit both countries on the same trip.)