THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
to Syria hit
Paris (JTA) — President Fran-
cois Mitterrand's two-day state
visit to Syria last week appears to
have been an exercise in ap-
peasement that failed to resolve
the sharp policy differences be-
tween France and Syria or to
budge President Hafez Assad
from his hardline position in the
Middle East conflict.
Mitterrand "went out of his
way," according to many obser-
vers, to avoid anything that could
be considered "a provocation" to
the Syrians. French officials said
he believed this was the best way
to induce Assad to join the peace
process and to improve relations
between the two countries.
At a press conference in
Damascus before his departure,
Mitterrand hailed Assad as "a key
personality" in the Middle East
and exonerated Syria from any
role in a series of terrorist attacks
that have taken many French
lives in recent months. Assad de-
nied any involvement in the at-
tacks and "I see no reason why I
should doubt his words," Mitter-
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But Syria stands accused by
several French ministers and
senior officials and by virtually
the entire media of having
planned and probably carried out
the assassination of the French
Ambassador in Beirut in 1981; of
masterminding the suicide attack
on French headquarters in Beirut
in October 1982 in which 58
French paratroopers were killed;
and having carried out the attack
on an anti-Syrian Arab news-
paper in Paris which led to the
expulsion of two Syrian diplomats
It is not yet known whether
Mitterrand met with members of
the Syrian Jewish community
while in Damascus or whether he
raised with Assad the issue of Sy-
rian Jews. Before his departure
for Syria, the French president
promised Theo Klein, president of
the Representative Council of
Major French Jewish Organiza-
tions (CRIF), that he would do so if
the opportunity arose.
Before leaving Damascus, Mit-
terrand did visit the "Jewish
Hall" in the Syrian National
Museum and an old synagogue
which was reconstructed as an ar-
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