PARIS (Oct. 28)
President Francois Mitterrand said Tuesday that France will not sell arms to Syria and called on the 12 member-state European Economic Community (EEC) to investigate Syria’s possible participation in terrorist activities in Western Europe.
Speaking at a nationally televised press conference, he said that if the charges against Syria are established, “there should be no compromise whatsoever with states that export terrorism abroad.”
Mitterrand said that if Syria’s involvement was proved, “Europe should close ranks against crime and adopt special measures.”
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe had called for a ban on arms sales, the cancellation of economic aid and the recall of all European Ambassadors from Damascus.
The Foreign Ministers of the EEC memberstates, who met Monday in Luxembourg, failed to agree on joint action against Syria or even on the publication of a joint communique condemning Syria’s alleged involvement in the attempt to blow up an El Al jet at London’s Heathrow Airport last April.
Eleven of the Ministers issued a statement expressing outrage but failed to mention Syria by name. Greece refused to approve even this watered-down communique. All joint EEC statements must be decided unanimously.
STUDY OF EVIDENCE IS URGED
Mitterrand called on the governments of the 12 nations to study the evidence submitted by Britain before their Ministers meet again November 10. “It seems that we need to further pursue the examination (of the available evidence) before this meeting,” Mitterrand said.
The center-right government of Jacques Chirac has repeatedly denied that it is on the point of signing an arms agreement with Syria. Mitterrand, a Socialist, also stressed that “there are no plans to sell arms to Syria.”