PARIS (Feb. 21)
Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy reiterated in an Arab capital France’s “loyal friendship for Israel which has the right to live in peace within safe, recognized and guaranteed borders” but added that Paris is also the friend of the Palestinian people.
Mauroy, who was speaking last Friday in Tunis, the site of the Arab League secretariat, said he wanted to make his government’s position “clear.” He said: “(President Francois) Mitterrand will clearly tell the Israelis our position which can be summed up as: “Justice for all the nations, security for all states.” The French Premier also said that the Palestine Liberation Organization “cannot be kept away from the negotiations for a global peace.” Mitterrand is scheduled to visit Israel next month.
TUNISIA CONSIDERED GENERALLY MODERATE
The Tunisian government of President Habib Bourguiba is generally considered moderate in Middle Eastern affairs and Tunisian Premier Mahammed M’zali has reportedly told Mauroy that Tunisia welcomes Mitterrand’s forthcoming trip to Israel, “as only Israel’s best friends can prevail on it to moderate its positions and ultimately reach an agreement with the Palestinians.”
The Tunisians reportedly fear, however, that time is running short and that unless an agreement is soon reached, a new war will break out in the area.
M’Zali told the French Premier at the state dinner he held in his honor Thursday night that “it is of the utmost urgency to explore new ways to break the (Mideast) deadlock and to start a true peace process.” He warned that “unless the PLO is fully associated with the negotiations, these are doomed to fail.”
France, and especially its new Socialist Administration which supported Bourguiba’s quest for independence, has traditionally close ties with Tunis, its former protectorate and still a major political and economic partner.
In Abu Dhabi, where he is on an official trip, French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson also repeated Mitterrand’s pledges of friendship for Israel but added that “a Palestinian state must be created in the (Israeli) occupied territories which should be evacuated according to (United Nations Security Council) Resolution 242.” Cheysson said that “neither the PLO nor the Arab states would accept a state located elsewhere than where the Palestinians live, in the territories themselves.”