• Short Summary

    In Paris, President Giscard d'Estaing defended French policy on Africa during his first news conference for almost 18 months, held in the Elysee Palace on Wednesday (14 June).

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    SV's & GV's: President Giscard d'Estaing speaking at news conference in Elysee Palace.

    President Giscard d'Estaing also commented on home affairs during the two news conference and on France's role in Europe. He announced that parliamentary reforms concerning government consultation with opposition groups would soon be implemented. On the latest unemployment figures of 1,037,000, he said it was his objective to achieve full employment by the year 2000.

    Initials JS/1730

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: In Paris, President Giscard d'Estaing defended French policy on Africa during his first news conference for almost 18 months, held in the Elysee Palace on Wednesday (14 June). The President answered earlier criticisms which were of French military involvement in several African states-Mauritania, Chad and most recently, Zaire. He said that in each case France's role had been one of stabilisation rather than intervention in the internal affairs of the country. The President went on to outline the reasons behind his decision to send French paratroops into Zaire, during the rebellion in Shaba province last month.

    SYNOPSIS:president Giscard d'Estaing stressed the only motive behind the French action in Zaire had been to save lives. He said the government had ensured that the threat to the security of Shaba province had come from outside Zaire and that french nationals in the area were in danger. France's action had been defensive, limited to the immediate needs for the situation and designed to help the search for a political solution. The President announced the withdrawal of the last Foreign Legion troops stationed in Zaire and attacked critics who had described the involvement in shaba as a revival of "colonialism". He said France had only intervened in Africa at the request of the government concerned.

    The President also discussed France's military aid to Mauritania, where French troops were used last year to counter an attack by Polisario rebels. He said that there were now only 100 French advisors in Mauritania and that his government had responded to a call for help from the Mauritania President, Ould Daddah.

    The same situation had arisen in Chad last month, when Liberation Front (FROLINAT) rebels had threatened the capital of N'Djamena. The President stressed that in each case, the rebellions had received backing from foreign powers-the Polisario guerrillas are supported by Algeria, and the Libyan Jamahiriyah is backing the FROLINAT forces in Chad. The President did not comment on criticism of the involvement of the Soviet Union and Cuba in Africa, made during the recent summit meeting of North Atlantic Treary Organisation. On detente, he said it must be "world-wide" and that any "violation of frontiers is not compatible with the spirit of detente".

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