PARIS (Dec. 2)
Zaire reasserted today its continued support “for the rights of the Palestinian people as represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization” and said it will neither buy nor “accept as a gift” weapons captured by Israel from the PLO in Lebanon.
The statement was issued by Zaire’s Embassy here less than 24 hours after Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel concluded a state visit to Kinshasa as the guest of President Mobutu Sese Seko. According to Israeli press reports, Israel and Zaire signed a number of agreements providing for agricultural and military cooperation during Shamir’s three-day visit.
The Zairian statement, issued by Ambassador Mokolo Wa N pom bo, said: “Establishing diplomatic ties with Israel does not change Zaire’s recognition of Palestinian rights … Zaire does not intend to reorganize its armed forces by taking advantage of the misfortune (in war) of the PLO. ” Israeli press reports from Kinshasa said that Israel was offering Zaire Soviet and Western manufactured weapons it captured during the war in Lebanon to help Zaire reorganize its army and security forces.
The strongly worded statement was issued, according to Zairian diplomats in Paris, on instructions from “the highest authorities” in Kinshasa.
REASONS FOR THE STATEMENT
According to French diplomatic sources, the statement was issued on Mobutu’s orders to try to prevent a possible deterioration of Zaire’s relations with the Arab states and France as a result of Its closer ties with Israel.
After President Francois Mitterrand’s election in May, 1981, France welcomed improved Israeli relations with Africa. In recent months this policy has changed and Paris now wants to preserve the French-speaking African states under its sole influence. The Zaire statement was apparently issued both to soothe French worries and to appease the Arab world.