Peres Says France is One of Israel’s Major Allies

Premier Shimon Peres proclaimed here last night that France ranks as one of Israel’s major allies. “Israel needs and now has two major allies — the United States of America and France,” Peres declared in response to a toast at a banquet given in his honor by Premier Laurent Fabius.

The Israeli leader arrived here yesterday for a three-day official visit, the first incumbent Israeli Premier to come to France since the late David Ben Gurion. The especially warm welcome he received at Orly Airport and at an appearance before the National Assembly was reflected at the banquet where Peres and Fabius stressed the renewal of the Franco-Israeli “special relationship” after a 20 year break.

“France is and will remain loyal to her friends. I welcome our friend Shimon Peres, Prime Minister of our friend, Israel, “Fabius declared before the dinner guests who included a half dozen ranking Cabinet ministers.

DETAILED TALKS ON MIDEAST SCHEDULED

Peres will meet today with President Francois Mitterrand for what is expected to be a detailed discussion of Middle East issues and bilateral relations. Mitterrand is the only Western statesman to have met in recent months with a wide array of Arab leaders.

These include King Hassan of Morocco, President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Col. Muammar Qaddafi of Libya, King Hussein of Jordan, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and President Hafez Assad of Syria.

Peres is said to be anxious to hear Mitterrand’s first hand impressions of the role at least some of these leaders might play in the Middle East peace process. He is especially interested in Mitterrand’s assessment of Assad’s intentions which could directly effect Israel’s current negotiations with Lebanon for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from south Lebanon and the future security of Israel’s northern borders. Peres is also aware of Mitterrand’s desire that France play a key role in Mideast peacemaking.

NUCLEAR POWER STATION FOR ISRAEL DISCUSSED

But the most interest aroused here since Peres’ arrival centered on reports that he and Fabius had discussed the purchase by Israel of a nuclear power station manufactured in France. It was said to have been one of the bilateral subjects that came up during the 45 minute private meeting the two premiers had yesterday.

Fabius confirmed to reporters last night that the sale of a power station had been discussed. He refused to specify the type of generator but he did not rule out nuclear power.

French officials said the only problem is that Israel is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention which provides for regular inspection of nuclear installations by the Vienna-based Atomic Energy Commission. The inspection is to ascertain whether nuclear weapons are being produced. The officials said Israel might circumvent this obstacle by agreeing to open its French-made installation to inspection.

Peres will host a reception at the Israeli Embassy here this afternoon and will be guest of honor tonight at a dinner given by the French Jewish community. He is due to return to Israel Saturday.

NEXT STORY