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Mitterrand: France to Honor Accords Signed by Previous Administrations

President Francois Mitterrand said today that France will continue to honor all international agreements and contracts signed by previous administrations.

Mitterrand, who was addressing the first session of his newly appointed government, stressed, however, that his administration will not follow his predecessor’s foreign policy and that the new government will decide on new negotiations and commercial contracts. Mitterrand was referring, according to Elysee spokesman Pierre Beregovoy, to French arms deals with the various Arab countries.

France’s new Foreign Minister, Claude Cheysson, later explained that the new administration will develop its own foreign policy in the Middle East within the next few months. “We are starting off by implementing the outgoing administration’s policy (on the Middle East). We are bound by a number of (official) declarations and resolutions which we will faithfully respect. It is only in coming months that France’s (new) positions will become clear.”

Socialist sources close to the new government stress that Mitterrand intends to honor all his pre-electoral pledges but has to start off with implementing existing international contracts and obligations. The sources say that the new administration’s attitude will become clear at a future date and that Israel and France’s Jewish community will not be disappointed with the new administration.

Mitterrand’s words during the campaign were far more ambitious than some of his Jewish supporters interpreted them at the time. In his reply to a questionnaire by the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations of France, two days before the election, Mitterrand stuck mainly to generalities and made no clear-cut commitments. Israeli and Jewish circles believe that the new administration should be given the necessary time to work out its own foreign policy and negotiate its own agreements.

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