PARIS (May. 9)
Secretary of State George Shultz will meet President Francois Mitterrand here tomorrow and will later brief the Foreign Ministers of Britain, France and Italy on the situation in the Middle East from where he has just returned. The three countries, along with the U.S., provide the troops for the multinational force presently deployed in and around Beirut.
Shultz, who came to Paris to attend the annual ministerial meeting of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will be joined by U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger who is due here from Washington today. French sources said the two men might meet Saudi Arabian and Iraqi representatives to review the Lebanese situation in light of Syria’s refusal to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.
The Saudi Defense Minister, Prince Sultan Bin Abdel Azzis, and Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Azzis, are in Paris reportedly to negotiate major arms purchases from France. They are also planning to meet the two American Cabinet members, sources here said.
U.S. officials confirmed that Weinberger will meet with Prince Sultan but said that neither the Defense Secretary nor Shultz have definite plans to confer with the Iraqi official. France has been urging the U.S. to back Iraq in its war with Iran. Iraq has purchased more than $3 billion worth of French weapons over the last two years and is seeking credit here for additional purchases, said to include Puma helicopters and Etendard fighter planes equipped with Exocet air-to-sea missiles. Those missiles were Argentina’s most effective weapon in its war with Britain over the Falkland Islands a year ago.
The Saudis, who have also bought large quantities of French military equipment are reportedly planning to sign new contracts for missiles, tanks and electronic equipment.