French P.m. Described As a Friend of Israel

Laurent Fabius, the newly designated Prime Minister of France, was described by Israel’s Ambassador in Paris today as “a friend of Israel who has deep feelings and convictions toward the Zionist enterprise.”

Ambassador Ovadia Sofer said in a Voice of Israel Radio interview from the French capital that Fabius, Minister of Industry in the outgoing government of Premier Pierre Mauroy, was one of the more talented members of the Socialist government.

When he visited Israel four months ago “he broke the ice” that had chilled relations between the two countries with the result that France and Israel concluded a pact for cooperation in the high technology field.

Laurent was named Prime Minister by President Francois Mitterrand yesterday following Mauroy’s surprise resignation. At 37 he will be France’s youngest Prime Minister in 150 years. Sofer recalled that when he came to Paris last year after serving as Israel’s Ambassador to Switzerland, Fabius’ wife helped him to develop his first contacts with the Socialist regime.

Sofer said that he has noticed in the past few months a general improvement in Franco-Israeli relations. “I do not believe that at present France would initiate any political step (in the Middle East) without prior consultation with Israel,” he said.

Sofer added that France in any event would not launch a diplomatic initiative, such as the often proposed international peace conference on the Middle East, before the American Presidential elections next November.

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