PARIS (Apr. 21)
Israeli Premier Shimon Peres, on a two-day visit to France, met with President Francois Mitterrand for more than three hours at the Elysee Palace Monday. Their discussion focussed on the U.S. air strike against Libya and on other issues, such as East-West relations, Syrian policies and the situation in the Persian Gulf.
Peres told reporters later that he had expressed his view to Mitterrand that the American raid on Libya seriously weakened Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s internal position and Soviet influence in the area.
According to Peres, the U.S. air strike achieved its major aims: forcing Qaddafi to concentrate on the defense of his country and regime instead of plotting terrorist acts and backing revolutionary movements; and exposing the weakness of Soviet influence, and the unreliability of Soviet-made ground-to-air missiles which the Arab states had thought were a foolproof defense.
Peres said Mitterrand explained to him why France refused to allow U.S. F-III bombers to over fly French territory on their way to Libya but would not disclose the reasons. “It is up to the French to make their position known,” he said. He stressed, nevertheless, that in his view France can still be counted on as a firm backer of the Western world.
Peres will go to Strasbourg Tuesday to address the Council of Europe and will fly back to Israel Tuesday evening.