King Khaled of Saudi Arabia ended his three-day state visit to France today. While the two countries professed an identity of views on political matters relating to the Middle East and Africa and promised each other increased economic cooperation, French officials were clearly disappointed by their failure to persuade the Saudis to buy advanced Mirage warplanes, France’s most important arms export item.
Khaled and his party, which included the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, conferred with President Valery Giscard d’Estaing and other ministers and with French bankers and industrialists. They told the French that their country’s defense requirements had been satisfied by the U.S. decision to sell Saudi Arabia 60 F-15 jets.
Prince Saud told reporters that there was no discussion of the possible purchase of Mirage 2000 and 4000 fighter-bombers, either for Saudi Arabia or for transfer to a third country such as Egypt. This prompted one French official to remark bitterly, “The Saudis are hooked more than ever before to the United States.” Nevertheless, officials here hope the talks will be resumed on “a more concrete” basis next month when France is visited by Khaled’s brother, Prince Fahd, who is regarded as the real power in Riyadh.
With respect to the Middle East, French spokesmen said the Saudis pressed for a more active role by Western Europe in finding a solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict. They blamed Israel for the current negotiations impasse which, they said, “exposed Israel’s refusal to negotiate a peaceful solution.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.