PARIS (Dec. 1)
Tunisia criticized today Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s “unilateral decisions” which “endanger the interests of the Arab people and the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people.” The Tunisian comment, the first voiced by the moderate North African country, was voiced by its Foreign Minister, Habib Chatty, at a meeting in Tunis.
Chatty, who said he was speaking on behalf of Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba, said the Arab world “must respect the decisions taken at the Algiers and Rabat summit conferences” if it wants to adopt a solidarity position.
Chatty stressed that the Rabat meeting recognized the PLO as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians. “Any action on the Palestinian issue must be conducted after consultation with the PLO and its agreement,” the Tunisian minister said. He added: “Israel’s expansionism has never been as obvious as it is today.”
Observers here say the Tunisian statement comes as a blow to Sadat who has generally in the past been backed by the pro-Western North African republic.
In another Mideast-related development, France is due to start negotiations for new arms deals with the United Arab Emirates, French officials said here yesterday. The negotiations will begin tomorrow when French Defense Minister Yvon Bourges arrives in Abu Dhabi for a three-day official visit. The United Arab Emirates, which includes seven oil-rich independent states, are interested in buying French planes, electronic equipment and trucks. The Emirates have already bought in France Mirage fighter planes and tanks.